Toxic Chytrid Fungus Threatens Salamanders
AwN | One of the coolest animals I have ever discovered was when I was building my chicken coop. I had dug the foundation (4 foot deep holes) and I came out the next morning to find a Spotted Salamander in the hole. I had seen plenty of salamnders before, having spent a lot of time in the soil, but never one that was bigger than the lizards I used to see on vacations in Florida. I was very impressed by the size and color of the yellow spotted salamander.
Anyway, salamanders are currently being threatened by a(nother) chytrid fungus. An organization I have followed for a while due to my love of wolves, Defenders of Wildlife, has formed a petition to request a ban on salamander imports. Personally I am almost never against the import of plants, but almost always against the import of animals. That is because plants are almost never predatory, while animals almost always are, in one way or another. The condition here is the carrying of a disease or fungus, and that is also a case when I am against the import of plants. Please read up and consider signing the petition. Petition Here
Scientists Urge Ban On Salamander Imports To U.S. To Keep Fungus At Bay
NPR | Scientists are calling for an immediate ban on live salamander imports in the U.S. to try to prevent the spread of a fungal disease that could potentially devastate wild North American salamanders.
Almost half of the world's known salamander species live in North America, and many are already threatened or endangered. Salamanders may be inconspicuous, but they're important to the ecosystem — they eat disease-carrying insects, are a key link between the aquatic and terrestrial food webs, and may even aid the global carbon cycle. Some species produce antimicrobial compounds, and others are being studied to learn how humans might someday regrow limbs.
They're also in danger from the chytrid fungus. When the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis fungus, or Bd, was discovered in 1998 in parts of Australia and Central America, scientists could only watch as species after species of frogs and salamanders disappeared in what has become a worldwide die-off. Vance Vredenburg, a biologist at San Francisco State University, has seen firsthand what chytrid can do to amphibians. He calls it "absolute decimation."
Image: The Ensatina salamander, a lungless species common along the U.S. West Coast, is one of hundreds of species of salamanders endemic to North America threatened by an emerging infectious pathogen.
Courtesy of Tiffany Yap
SOS - Save Our Salamanders
Defenders of Wildlife | The U.S. has more species of salamanders than any other place in the world. They come in species large and small, brightly colored or well-camouflaged, frilled, spotted, and every other variation you can think of, and the entire menagerie is right here in our own back yards and woods. Sadly, many species are already threatened or endangered as their habitats become smaller and more developed and polluted by human activity. And now, these animals may be facing what experts are calling an “amphibian apocalypse.”
Salamanders are the next in line for what seems to be a wave of diseases attacking not just single species, but dozens or hundreds of related species at a time. First was the chytrid disease, threatening to wipe out frogs and other amphibians in the U.S. and around the world. Then it was white nose syndrome, which is decimating bat species across the continent. The latest enemy is another chytrid fungus – this one called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans or Bsal for short. Like its frog-attacking counterpart, Bsal starts as a skin infection, rapidly becoming more serious, and nearly always lethal.