FundaciĆ³n General CSIC

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Threatened Species. FundaciĆ³n General CSIC Strategic Line


proyectos

Proyecto: Disease mitigation in declining amphibian populations

Disease mitigation in declining amphibian populations

According to the project's researchers, amphibians are the tragic protagonists of the so-called sixth extinction. More than a third of amphibian species are now seriously threatened and many species are dying out without even having been properly described by science.

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It is difficult to imagine that many amphibians around the world are disappearing mysteriously, without us being able to see what is causing the disaster. This is also affecting protected areas, sanctuaries which in theory should be safe from human impacts. However, nobody was able to see what was happening, nor much less, prevent it.


 


And the biggest threat to amphibians in our interconnected world is probably a microscopic fungus that man is spreading throughout the planet. This fungus, known scientifically by the name of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and colloquially referred to as the "killer fungus", is lethal for many amphibians that have never previously come into contact with it. In a manner comparable to how the smallpox brought by European settlers wiped out as many as 95% of the indigenous inhabitants of the New World, the international trade in amphibians, which began in the 30s for medical uses, food, biological pest control or simply as pets, has been the route by which this new and dangerous threat has spread.

This project will test new methods of mitigation of the disease caused by a fungus affecting amphibians in the wild. The researchers from the Museo de Ciencias Naturales have teamed up with Drs Jonathan Bielby and Trenton Garner, of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and Dr Matthew Fisher of Imperial College London, in this project to model the disease dynamics in the populations targeted for treatment. It will also try to enable animals to develop a degree of acquired immunity and thereby boost their resistance to the disease.

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