Category Archives: Amphibian

Forest Service scientist helps defend amphibians against exotic health threat

The eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), rests on a rock in its natural environment.

Avian influenza, rabies, mad cow disease, and even chronic wasting disease are animal diseases that make the headlines because of their threat to human health, and the ease in which they spread among animals, regions – even countries. But nongame wildlife diseases are less known.

Although an alert for global amphibian declines began almost 30 years ago, it took another decade for ecologists to realize that diseases were a top threat to amphibians.

Today, the groundwork laid by studying earlier threats may make a difference for hundreds of North American amphibians that could be in danger from an exotic pathogen that is hitchhiking along global trade routes, and may soon appear on this continent.

Learn more about Bd [Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis], the emergence of Bsal [B. salamandrivorans], and the international task force that’s researching this new fungal pathogen – tied to amphibian die-offs in multiple places around the world, and a multispecies disease threat to amphibian biodiversity, including more than 200 likely vulnerable species in North America – and Deanna “Dede” Olson, the Forest Service research ecologist who helped launch a task force dedicated to protecting these amphibians from the Bsal and related threats, in Science Findings #214 (a publication of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station): https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/sciencef/scifi214.pdf.

Did you know: Bsal and other exotic infections or diseases are most likely to be introduced to a new ecosystem via an infected amphibian or carrier imported as a pet. You can help prevent exotic diseases from spreading by ensuring you purchase pets only from reputable breeders or suppliers, and that they raise only certified disease-free, legally-imported animals. For more information, visit www.salamanderfungus.org/.

A roughskin newt (Taricha granulosa) on moss. Photo courtesy of Elke Wind (all rights reserved)
A roughskin newt, Taricha granulosa, on moss. Photo courtesy of Elke Wind (all rights reserved)

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station