Feature article on chytridiomycosis by colleague Dr. Ben Scheele: "Dealing with the curse of ch
One of our colleagues working on chytridiomycosis in amphibians, Dr. Benjamin Scheele, recently wrote a great feature article (highlighting some of our collective research) for Decision Point # 92, September 2015, on the state of chytridiomycosis research and management in Australia: "Dealing with the curse of chytrid: Coming to terms with amphibian chytrid fungus in Australia's High Country".
Frogs are in trouble. A third of all frog species are threatened with extinction. The usual culprits of habitat loss and climate change are at work, but another more insidious threat looms. A devastating disease called chytridiomycosis has been wiping out frogs, often from pristine habitats. The disease is caused by a fungus – amphibian chytrid fungus (pronounced kit-tyrid). The fungus disrupts the skin function of infected frogs leading to cardiac arrest (heart attack).
The numbers are sobering. Since the identification of chytrid by Australian researchers in 1998, the pathogen has been documented in over 500 amphibian species, and is now found on all continents (except Antarctica). Fortunately, the pathogen is not universally deadly with some species demonstrating high resistance (though this produces some problems of its own as I’ll explain later).
However, many species are highly susceptible and the pathogen has been identified as the primary driver of decline for over 200 species of frog! Consider that for a moment. Enormous effort is put into saving vertebrate species from extinction and when, for example, a microbat, the Christmas Island pipistrelle, went extinct in 2009 there was an enormous outcry. Chytrid is threatening over 200 vertebrate species with extinction. It’s believed that 113 of these species are likely already extinct... (read more).