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.

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