New fears for froggy fungus
Thursday 1 June 2006
A new study by ZSL has found that introduced North American bullfrog populations consistently carry a disease-causing fungus implicated in global amphibian declines.
The IUCN recently highlighted the dramatic global decline of amphibian species and has identified chytridiomycete fungus as a key factor.
Scientists from ZSL and Imperial College London have determined that introduced North American bullfrog populations consistently carry this disease-causing fungus and infections by the fungus were detected in introduced bullfrogs in seven of eight countries (UK, France, Italy, Canada, U.S.A., Brazil and Uruguay).
North American bullfrogs are a common species in the commercial trade of amphibians and consequently the discovery that they carry a potentially lethal fungus demonstrates a clear need to assess this trade.
The European Union suspended the importation of bullfrogs into Europe in 1997, but legislation around the world is less prescriptive.
‘In the past, it has been accepted that the introduction of North American bullfrogs has led to the decline of other amphibian species through competition with native species or through predation of natives.
'However, our work has demonstrated that the bullfrog has the potential to act as a vector or reservoir of this fungus at a global scale. It is important that the diseases bullfrogs carry as well as the bullfrogs themselves be treated as invasive.’ says Dr Trent Garner (IoZ), lead author of the study.
Image: © Stephen Price