Science 3 min read

Fungal Disease Causes Global Amphibian Extinction

This global crisis could fundamentally weaken our planet's ecosystem. ¦ Pixabay

This global crisis could fundamentally weaken our planet's ecosystem. ¦ Pixabay

Over the last 50 years, there’s been a dramatic population decline in more than 500 amphibian species, including 90 extinctions.

And, according to an international study led by the Australian National University, a fungal disease is responsible for the potential mass amphibian extinction.

Amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders live part of their life in water. Between the increase in habitat destruction and effects of climate change, this class of animals is already in a global extinction crisis.

Nearly 168 amphibians have gone extinct, and a deadly disease – chytridiomycosis – may be responsible for over 50 percent of the extinction.

The disease, which slowly breaks down the amphibians’ skin, has caused sporadic death in several species and completely wiped out others. Although it is present in over 60 countries, its effect is stronger in Australia, South America, and Central America.

According to lead researcher Dr. Ben Scheele, chytridiomycosis is responsible for the most significant loss of biodiversity.

The researcher from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU wrote:

“The disease is caused by chytrid fungus, which likely originated in Asia where local amphibians appear to have resistance to the disease.”

With the unprecedented amphibian decline, the Chytrid fungus may be one of the most damaging of invasive species globally. Dr. Scheele believes that if it remains unchecked, the disease may result in the planet’s sixth mass extinction.

“The disease we studied has caused mass amphibian extinctions worldwide. We’ve lost some really amazing species,” he said. 

How Can We Stop The Mass Amphibian Extinction?

According to the publication, two significant contributors to the global pandemic are globalization and wildlife trade. Since humans are always moving plants and animals around the world, it becomes easy to introduce the pathogen into a new area at a rapid rate.

As such, the lead researcher of the project notes that one way to prevent the mass amphibian extinction is to improve biosecurity and wildlife trade regulation.

He wrote in the publication that;

“We’ve got to do everything possible to stop future pandemics, by having better control over wildlife trade around the world.”

Australia appears to be ahead of other affected countries in this effort. Not only have conservation programs prevented the extinction of several frog species, but the country has also developed new techniques to save other amphibians too.

But not all the amphibians need to be rescued from this disease. The researchers revealed that some lucky species are resistant to the chytrid fungus.

Unfortunately, that means they’re a reservoir for the fungus and will always remain a constant source of infection for other species.

Read More: First Mammal Goes Extinct due to Climate Change

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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    Isaac Hesson April 05 at 2:35 am GMT

    how chytrid fungus become fatal to amphibian? and where is the origin of this Fungus?

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