August 13, 2012
"Our results suggest that decreases in climate predictability associated with climate change could increase Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and amphibian declines," the researchers write. Bd is the specific fungus that causes chytridiomycosis, which has decimated amphibian populations worldwide, likely playing a major role in several recent extinctions.
Incorporating field data from Latin American amphibian populations and conducting laboratory experiments on infected Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis), the researchers found that the fungus spread more rapidly on frogs when temperatures became more variable, implying that the fungus could adapt quicker to temperature changes than the frog's defenses.
Still, the scientists say more research will be needed, including looking at other frog species.
In part due to chytridiomycosis—as well as habitat loss, overconsumption, and pollution—amphibians are among the world's more imperiled animal groups. Currently 30 percent of the world's frogs are listed as threatened by the IUCN Red List. However, that percentage jumps higher when one considers that a dearth of data for a quarter of the world' amphibians makes them impossible to assess at this time. It's believed that at least 120 amphibians have gone extinct since 1980.
Cuban tree frog.
CITATION: Raffel, Thomas R.; Romansic, John M.; Halstead, Neal T.; McMahon, Taegan A.; Venesky, Matthew D.; Rohr, Jason R. Disease and thermal acclimation in a more variable and unpredictable climate. Nature Climate Change. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1659
Scientists testing anti-fungal bacteria on diseased frogs in California
(07/23/2012) Researchers are treating tadpoles in Kings Canyon National Park with a bacteria they hope will provide immunity to an infamous fungal disease, reports the San Francisco Gate. The bacteria could be key not only to saving California's mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), which is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, but also frog species around the planet, many of which have been decimated by the chytrid fungal disease.
Vampire and bird frogs: discovering new amphibians in Southeast Asia's threatened forests
(02/06/2012) In 2009 researchers discovered 19,232 species new to science, most of these were plants and insects, but 148 were amphibians. Even as amphibians face unprecedented challenges—habitat loss, pollution, overharvesting, climate change, and a lethal disease called chytridiomycosis that has pushed a number of species to extinction—new amphibians are still being uncovered at surprising rates. One of the major hotspots for finding new amphibians is the dwindling tropical forests of Southeast Asia.
California city bans bullfrogs to safeguard native species
(01/26/2012) Santa Cruz, California has become the first city in the U.S. to ban the importation, sale, release, and possession of the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Found throughout Eastern and Central U.S., the frogs have become an invasive threat to wildlife in the western U.S. states and Canada.
Frog plague found in India
(01/03/2012) The chytrid fungus, which is responsible for the collapse of numerous amphibian populations as well as the extinction of entire species, has been located for the first time in India, according to a paper in Herpetological Review. Researchers took swabs of frog in the genus Indirana in the Western Ghats and found the killer fungus known as chytridiomycosis.
Effort to save world's rarest frogs recognized with conservation award
(12/05/2011) An effort to save the world's most endangered amphibians has won mongabay.com's 2011 conservation award. Amphibian Ark — a joint effort of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group — is working to evaluate the status of threatened amphibians, raise awareness about the global amphibian extinction crisis, and set up captive breeding programs. The initiative is targeting 500 species that will not survive without captive breeding efforts.