Presence of the Amphibian Chytrid Fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Native Amphibians Exported from Madagascar

That’s it. The worst news imaginable.

A new study published in PLoS One last week has found chytrid - a fungal disease considered to be responsible for the extinction and decline of hundreds upon hundreds of frog species across the world - in frogs exported from Madagascar. Until now, Madagascar has been the last remaining hotspot of amphibian diversity to lack the disease. Mass declines and extinctions have not yet happened, but are expected. Urgent action will be required now to prevent the disappearance of Madagascar’s frogs.

This is a truncated abstract of the paper:

The emerging infectious disease chytridiomycosis is driven by the spread of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidisBd), a highly virulent pathogen threatening global amphibian biodiversity. Although pandemic in distribution, previous intensive field surveys have failed to detect Bd in Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot home to hundreds of endemic amphibian species…Bd was detected in three animals via quantitative PCR: a single Heterixalus alboguttatusHeterixalus betsileo, and Scaphiophryne spinosa. This is the first time Bd has been confirmed in amphibians from Madagascar and presents an urgent call to action. Our early identification of pathogen presence prior to widespread infection provides the necessary tools and encouragement to catalyze a swift, targeted response to isolate and eradicate Bd from Madagascar. If implemented before establishment occurs, an otherwise likely catastrophic decline in amphibian biodiversity may be prevented.

This is not in fact the first record of Bd in Madagascar, though it is the first published record of it. In fact, we have known for some time now that chytrid is present on the island, almost certainly introduced by tourists. It has thus far been confirmed from four localities according to Dr. Franco Andreone, one of the leading frog specialists working in Madagascar. We are still awaiting more data, and are nervously watching for the first sign of declines.

Read the full open access paper here.

Please help. I don’t know what you can do. But at the very least, you can donate to the Amphibian Specialist Group, Save The Frogs, or AmphibianArk. We need to stop this disease before it gets out of hand. Because if we don’t, we will lose everything.

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