Tag: amphibians

Deadly new fungal disease presents global threat to salamanders

A fire salamander from France. Photo via Wikimedia and the Creative Commons.

Conservation groups call on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to act decisively to protect U.S. populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — A skin-eating fungus that has spread via the commercial sale of salamanders could pose a serious new threat to amphibians around the world.

Researchers in the Netherlands identified the fungus last year as they investigated a huge crash in the population of fire salamanders. In just four years, the fungus nearly wiped out fire salamanders in the Netherlands. It kills the amphibians by eating through their skin, exposing them to lethal bacterial infections. Continue reading “Deadly new fungal disease presents global threat to salamanders”


Biodiversity: Amphibians now facing huge viral threat

Amphibians are facing a new viral threat.

Study documents mass die-offs in Spain

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with the deadly chytrid fungus that has been wiping out frogs and salamanders for a few decades, there’s a new emergent threat to amphibians.

Researchers from the UK and Spain are tracking severe disease and mass deaths in many amphibian species in the mountains of northern Spain, where common midwife toads, common toads and alpine newts are taking the biggest hit, showing levels of population collapse which could ultimately prove catastrophic to amphibian communities and their ecosystems. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Amphibians now facing huge viral threat”

Biodiversity: Feds agree to study pesticide impacts to rare frogs in California

USGS sampling found that Pacific chorus frogs in many remote Sierra Nevada locations are contaminated by pesticides and fungicides used in agricultural production in California’s Central Valley. Photo courtesy USGS.

Court settlement may ultimately help protect endangered amphibians

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a classic case of government do-nothingism, federal agencies have known for years that pesticides are killing rare California frogs — but have failed to act to protect the amphibians from the poisons.

But that should change soon, as a federal court this week approved a deal that requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare detailed environmental studies on the effects of seven common pesticides: Glyphosate, malathion, simazine, pendimethalin, permethrin, methomyl and myclobutanil.

The studies, called biological opinions in government jargon, will evaluate and disclose how the use of those chemicals affects California’s red-legged frogs when they’re used in and near the frog’s aquatic and upland habitats. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Feds agree to study pesticide impacts to rare frogs in California”

Amphibians and reptiles on endangered species docket

The spotted turtle is one of 53 species that may gain protection of the Endangered Species Act. Photo courtesy Mike Rubbo/New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Protection sought for 53 species

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Saying that many amphibians and reptiles are living on the “knife edge” of extinction, conservation advocates last week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider Endangered Species Act protection for 53 species of snakes, turtles, frogs and salamanders. Continue reading “Amphibians and reptiles on endangered species docket”

Popular weedkiller causes deformities in amphibians

Tadpoles exposed to Roundup® grow abnormally large tails. PHOTO COURTESY FRIEDRICH BOEHRINGER VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Biologist ‘shocked’ to see morphological changes in vertebrates

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Exposure to sub-lethal doses of a widely used weed killer caused tadpoles to grow abnormally large tales, according to University of Pittsburgh biologist Rick Relyea, who has been studying ecotoxicology and ecology for two decades.

Relyea has conducted extensive research on the toxicity of Roundup® to amphibians. Monsanto has challenged some of the studies and Relyea has responded to the criticism on this website.

In his latest study, Relyea set up large outdoor water tanks that contained many of the components of natural wetlands. Some tanks contained caged predators, which emit chemicals that naturally induce changes in tadpole morphology (such as larger tails to better escape predators). After adding tadpoles to each tank, he exposed them to a range of Roundup® concentrations. After 3 weeks, the tadpoles were removed from the tanks.

“It was not surprising to see that the smell of predators in the water induced larger tadpole tails,” Relyea said. “That is a normal, adaptive response. What shocked us was that the Roundup® induced the same changes. Moreover, the combination of predators and Roundup® caused the tail changes to be twice as large.” Continue reading “Popular weedkiller causes deformities in amphibians”

Biodiversity: Amphibian decline projected to speed up

Overlapping threats seen as ‘multiple drivers of extinction’

More trouble for amphibians. PHOTO COURTESY USGS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global amphibian declines have been well-documented and attributed to a combination of climate change, habitat impacts from development, agriculture and other land-use factory, and the deadly chytrid fungus. Worldwide, about 30 percent of all amphibian species are listed as threatened under International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

In some of the latest research on amphibians, an international team of scientists tried to map the the spatial distribution of these threats and their interactions. Based on overlapping risk factors, the study concluded that the population declines could intensify in the future. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Amphibian decline projected to speed up”

Biodiversity: Amphibians ‘not evolving fast enough’

New study finds wide array of causes for sudden extinction wave

The Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki) is a critically endangered toad which is endemic to Panama. PHOTO BY BRIAN GRATWICKE VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The alarming global decline of amphibian species is probably caused by a number of factors rather than any single cause. Natural factors include competition, predation, reproduction and disease.

Man-made factors include habitat destruction, environmental contamination, invasive species and climate change, according to an international team of researchers who recently published findings from a comprehensive amphibian study in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

“An enormous rate of change has occurred in the last 100 years, and amphibians are not evolving fast enough to keep up with it,” said Andrew Blaustein, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University and an international leader in the study of amphibian declines. “We’re now realizing that it’s not just one thing, it’s a whole range of things. With a permeable skin and exposure to both aquatic and terrestrial problems, amphibians face a double whammy,” he said. “Because of this, mammals, fish and birds have not experienced population impacts as severely as amphibians – at least, not yet.” Continue reading “Biodiversity: Amphibians ‘not evolving fast enough’”