Archive for Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Project to fight frog-killing fungus

May 12, 2009


— Zoos in the U.S., Panama and Mexico are deploying researchers in Central America to develop new ways to fight a fungus blamed for wiping out dozens of frog and amphibian species as part of a project announced Monday.

The Smithsonian Institution is leading six other zoos and institutes in the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which aims to raise $1.5 million to fight the fast-spreading chytrid fungus.

Their protection efforts will focus on a small slice of Panama that is the only area in Central America that appears to be untouched by the disease, said Dr. Karen Lips, a University of Maryland researcher. Lips said it’s only a matter of time, though, before even that area is hit with the fungus — perhaps five years.

The speed at which the fungus has spread is “absolutely incredible,” she said. “It’s probably much worse than we even appreciate.”

Scientists say the chytrid fungus threatens to wipe out a vast number of the approximately 6,000 known amphibian species and is spreading quickly. Already, 122 amphibian species are believed to have gone extinct in the last 30 years, primarily because of the fungus, conservationists say.

“We’re looking at losing half of all amphibians in our lifetime,” said Brian Gratwicke, the Smithsonian’s lead scientist on the project.

The fungus has been found in 87 countries, including the United States.

Scientists involved in the project will work on implementing recently published research from James Madison University in Virginia that shows bacteria in frogs’ skin can be used to fight the fungal infection.


CLARKKENT 8 years, 11 months ago


gr 8 years, 11 months ago

So why after billions of years, is this just now a problem?

Why should we not let the frogs and the fungus evolve to the "next higher level"?

Kirk Larson 8 years, 11 months ago

gr Extinction is not the "next highest level". And why is it a problem now (meaning the last 30 years, more probably that we missed)? Amphibians are like the canary in the coal mine. Many breath and all exchange chemicals through their skins so they are very sensitive to change in their surroundings. Some studies suggest that stresses from sewage discharge, pollutants, maybe even climate change have made them more susceptible to fungal infections. We should pay attention because what affects them may well come around to us one day.

gr 8 years, 11 months ago

"And why is it a problem now (meaning the last 30 years, more probably that we missed)?"

You are missing my point. Are you saying something that has survived billions of years now will suddenly become extinct due to sewage?

But, we aren't talking about sewage, nor about other pollution nor imaginary man-made global warming (as if the equators are warmer now or if they haven't been warmer than temperate areas). We are talking about a fungus that can suddenly invade them. After billions of years of all kinds of environmental changes. Do you see the difference?

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