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A fungal disease has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species including 90 extinctions.
- According to an international study, published in the “journal Science”, has determined that a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis, has caused dramatic population declines in more than 500 amphibian species.
- The species mostly includes frogs, but also toads and salamanders.
- Over the past 50 years, the deadly disease, which eats away at the skin of amphibians, has completely wiped out some species, while causing more sporadic deaths among other species.
- Chytridiomycosis is present in more than 60 countries – the worst affected parts of the world are Australia, Central America and South America.
- In the 1970s, frogs in remote regions of Australia and Central America began to suddenly disappear.
- Researchers investigated for the reason for the outbreak whether by a climate change, UV radiation, or pollution. But they didn’t find a clear explanation until a small team in northern Queensland realized the population declines resembled the pattern of an extraordinary disease outbreak.
- In 1998, after combining disease outbreak approaches from human medical science with ecology and veterinary medicine, Lee Berger discovered Chytridiomycosis, a previously unknown disease parasitic fungi cause that invades the skin of amphibians.
Key finding of the research:
- Declining of 501 species of amphibians, including 90 extinctions, 40 Australian species becomes extinct, because of this fundal disease.
- The scientists said, this is the greatest recorded loss of biodiversity attributable to a disease.
- The fungus that is the most common cause of chytridiomycosis is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis( dendrobatidis) found in 1999. This particularly affects the skin of the frog.
- Two parasitic chytrid fungi cause chytridiomycosis, most commonly dendrobatidis, withB. salamandrivoransaffecting fire salamanders in Europe. B. dendrobatidis is likely native to East Asia, but is now present in more than 60 countries.
- The fungus invades the skin of adult amphibians, living inside epidermal cells and disrupting skin function. Unlike mammals, amphibians absorb water and electrolytes through their thin, permeable skin, but chytridiomycosis inhibits that process. Frogs lose potassium and sodium until their blood levels are too low and their hearts begin to malfunction. They become lethargic and die.