Salamanders facing a new threat

January 9, 2015

fire salamander

In the late 1980’s more than 200 species of amphibians came under tremendous threat from a deadly fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Many species suffered, but frogs in Australia and Central American rainforests were particularly hard hit with the disease wiping out over 40% of species in some regions. Bd has been described as the greatest disease threat to biodiversity. Now researchers have discovered a related fungus that migrated from Asia to Europe where it has brought the Fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) in the Netherlands to the brink of extinction. The disease caused by Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bs) is lethal to salamanders and newts and highly transmissible. The screening of samaples of more than 5000 individual amphibians from 4 continents have shown that in Europe the disease have thus far spread to the Netherlands and Belgium,  while 4% of salamanders from Thailand, Vietnam and Japan tested positive for Bs.  The samples from the Americas were clean. …

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