Friday, 28 March 2014

BBC News - Salamander threatened by skin-eating fungus

BBC News - Salamander threatened by skin-eating fungus

A deadly skin-eating fungus is threatening the fire salamander population in the Netherlands.
It has driven the creature to the brink of extinction in the
region though it's still unknown whether other countries have seen
similar declines.

Recognisable by its vibrant yellow and black skin, fire
salamanders dropped to a population low of 10 animals before a treatment
programme began.

The findings, in PNAS journal, explain what caused their decline.

Once researchers observed the near catastrophic decline, the animals were taken into captivity.

A treatment programme was developed and youngsters have now
been born. The team plans to reintroduce them into the wild once numbers
are back to a sufficient level.

A team of international scientists was able to isolate the fungus after analysing dead salamanders. Its Latin name, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, means "salamander-eating".

"We need to act urgently to determine what populations are in danger and how best to protect them”

Matthew Fisher
Imperial College London

A related fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has already threatened over 200 species of amphibians.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Frog's little helpers

Amphibians across the globe are facing calamitous declines. Around a third of species are critically threatened, while extinction rates for amphibians are 200 times higher than for other vertebrates. Several factors underlie these changes: widespread habitat loss, climate change and toxic chemicals in environmental run-off, among others. However, the most prominent cause of epidemic mortality is the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, known more simply as Bd. Where it is common, Bd decimates populations. Puzzlingly, however, while Bd infection rates in some ponds are extremely high, other ponds are hardly affected. New research published in Current Biology offers a compelling explanation for this variation. Simultaneously, the results offer a novel route to mitigate Bd-induced amphibian loss. 

The conclusion is very nice!

Frog's little helpers

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Environmental Determinants of Recent Endemism of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infections in Amphibian Assemblages in the Absence of Disease Outbreaks

A paper to be published in Conservation Biology written by Annemarieke Spitzen-van der Sluijs and collaborators describe the Bd in the Netherlands. There, Bd is apparently endemic without causing much harm to amphibians. The abstract ist available here: