- The U.S. is home to the world’s greatest diversity of salamanders, so experts are worried about another pandemic that is headed for the country, one that has salamanders in its sights.
- Researchers think that about half of these species may be susceptible to the deadly fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (or ‘Bsal’), and believe it is only a matter of time before it gets to North America.
- On this bonus episode of the podcast we speak with Dr. Jake Kerby who is the former chair of the task force, and details how the group works with federal entities in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to manage and mitigate the damage of the potential pandemic.
- Dr. Kerby also describes what citizens can do to help.
North America and the U.S. in particular is the world’s hotspot of salamander diversity, hosting about a third of all species, so researchers are concerned about the potential landfall of the salamander killing fungus called Bsal.
Host Mike DiGirolamo interviews Dr. Jake Kerby who is the associate chair of biology at the University of South Dakota and former chair of a task force racing to stay ahead of the disease. In this conversation Kerby details the working relationships the group has with federal entities of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and how they are all working together to manage and mitigate the damage of the potential pandemic.
Most importantly, Dr. Kerby also describes what citizens can do to help.
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More reading from Mongabay on this topic:
- On the hunt for a silent salamander-killer
Scientists are racing to stop a pandemic before it starts – but will they find it in time?
- Super-spreaders: How the curious life of a newt could ignite a pandemic
Their susceptibility to Bsal coupled with their mobility mean eastern newts could act as “super-spreaders” of Bsal if the fungus gets to North America.
- U.S.G.S.’s National Wildlife Health Center’s Bsal Surveillance site
- View Mongabay’s whole series on Bsal here
- United States Bsal Task Force website
If you missed episode 1 of this series, listen to our conversation with Dr. Karen Lips, “Are we ready?” here:
Episode 2 discussed the huge salamander diversity in North America, and the U.S. in particular, and explored reasons for this great richness:
The third episode discusses how researchers are searching for Bsal:
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Banner image: Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), a European species greatly affected by Bsal, photo courtesy of Isselee Eric Philippe.