The amphibian chytrid fungus is taking a heavy toll on frogs in Central America. This fast-spreading fungus is being blamed for wiping out dozens of frog and amphibian species, with 122 amphibian species believed to have gone extinct in the last 30 years. While the fungus has been around for a long time, mounting research points to a diminishing resistance to the infection due to environmental change.
The fungus has been found in 87 countries now. Zoos and institutions have come together to form the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which plans an unprecedented effort to rescue and save numerous frog species. Panama is the focus area for this effort as the fungus hasn’t yet hit this small tropical country. A recent discovery that bacteria on the frog’s skin can fight the infection has provided hope for this battle. Bathing or spraying frogs with the helpful bacteria is part of the plan.
The Amphibiaweb website contains a good deal of details and maps regarding global amphibian declines. The rate of decline is alarming throughout the world, and the fungus is just one of the threats. Water and soil quality are the primary problems, but so are climate change, predation, depleted ozone, loss of habitat, pesticide use, etc.
It’s great to see this high-profile rescue response mobilize for Panama. Here the primary threat has been identified, and with a concerted effort perhaps we can change the outcome from extinction to survival.