Nearly 500 Species Of Frogs, Toads And Salamanders Declined Due to Deadly Fungal Disease

According to new research, around 90 species of amphibian are extinct due to a deadly fungal disease that eats their skins alive. This silent killer has taken down nearly 7 percent of all amphibians species, that is to say, nearly 500 species of frogs, toads, and salamanders have been affected. This pathogen is believed to have first emerged in Asia in the 1980s. The number indicates that the disease has created the greatest loss of biodiversity by any pathogen.

Trenton Garner from the Zoological Society of London, one of the paperā€™s authors, commented saying, “Itā€™s crazy what this pathogen does”. The damage done by the chytrid fungiĀ Batrachochytrium dendrobatidisĀ (Bd) andĀ Batrachochytrium salamandrivoransĀ (Bsal) has brought devastation upon 90 species that are presumed extinct in the wild. When the chytrid’s emerged in Asia, the disease spread rapidly which was aided by globalization and trade in wildlife.

“Weā€™ve known that’s chytrid’s really bad, but we didn’t know how bad it was, and it’s much worse than the previous early estimates,” says study leader Ben Scheele, an ecologist at Australian National University. “Our new results put it on the same scale, in terms of damage to biodiversity, like rats, cats, and [other] invasive species.”

The main factor that brought down the number of species is the disease but for others, habitat loss and climate change were the contributing factors for the decline. However, there is still hope. New species hit by the disease is down. Which means these frogs appear to be evolving a resistance to the disease and also the antifungal treatments have also shown to work in some cases.

For now, Scheele says the world needs to lessen the other threats amphibians face, from habitat loss to invasive species. Also, captive-breeding efforts such as the Amphibian Ark could act as genetic lifeboats.

Wendy Palen, a biologist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia said, “It’s pretty sobering that we havenā€™t been able to do those sorts of obvious things … Maybe this is a real wake-up call.”

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