Amphibians across the world are experiencing “catastrophic population declines” from a widening range of interacting pathogens, scientists say. Fungal disease chytridiomycosis is thought to have caused the extinction of 90 amphibian species around the world and the marked decline of at least 491 others over the last 20 years. According to Dr Benjamin Scheele, the lead author of a study into chytridiomycosis, it is “the greatest recorded loss of biodiversity attributable to a disease”.
But now amphibians are also under attack from another pathogen known as the ranavirus, which exists in at least four varieties. In addition scientists have found that there are at least two species of chytridiomycosis, and within these, many different genetic types. Among the 90 species of amphibians wiped out since chytridiomycosis began taking its toll across the world are the golden toad in Costa Rica (Incilius periglenes), the southern gastric-brooding frog of Australia (Rheobatrachus silus), and Arthur’s stubfoot toad (Atelopus arthuri) in Ecuador.
The rise of these fungal diseases are not only damaging to amphibian populations, but are also harmful to the environment. This is because frogs, salamanders and toads play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, for instance by eating mosquitoes that spread disease.
Source: The Independent, 20 April 2019