As humanity grapples with the consequences of coronavirus, both in tragic deaths and disruption of life from lockdowns, another pandemic is making its way around the world.
This pandemic only poses an indirect threat to humans, thankfully, as this new pandemic is wreaking havoc on amphibians around the world.
A type of fungus is causing skin diseases in amphibians, which can lead to what are essentially heart attacks for these creatures. Specifically, at fault is the chytrid fungi Batrachochytrium dendrobatis (Bd). This fungus originated in Asia, and now threatens over 500 species of frogs, salamanders, and more.
Smithsonian Magazine reports that “Bd is now known as one of the most destructive pathogens ever recorded in wild animals.”
So, what can be done? It is tough to tell. It is likely that human activity has had an impact, after all, there is no way the Asian Bd fungus would have found its way to the Americas without human migration and travel. Some scientists suggest that shrinking habitat is reducing these species’ chances at ever coming back strong.
And while this pandemic isn’t threatening the health of humans, extensive loss of amphibians could cause disruption in ecosystems, food chains, and eventually farming, livestock, or other industries.
Yet, despite these concerns, hope remains.
Randomly, some species that were thought to be extinct have reappeared from the wild, albeit in very small populations.
Smithsonian Magazine reports:
These near-extinct species seem to be recovering – still not far from the brink of extinction, and this gives some hope for amphibians in these darker times. These surviving species seem to have developed a resistance to the silent killer Bd. We could say that is good news, but it does not mean that we do not have to do anything about this pathogen, as species survival is not yet guaranteed.
We are still dealing with a disastrous killer pathogen and finding solutions to stop it is one of our greatest conservation challenges. Scientists have been making strong efforts to understand how these rediscovered frogs are now able to fight this pathogen on their own. The main objective of this information is to be used to help protect those species whose survival is at risk from this pathogen.
You can read more about this story in Smithsonian Magazine, here.