batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Researchers Detect Deadly Frog Fungus in Madagascar

An international team of amphibian experts including Museum curator Christopher Raxworthy has discovered that a fungus responsible for the precipitous decline of frog populations worldwide has now been detected in Madagascar.

In a paper published today in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers document the detection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in the island’s wild amphibians. The discovery is already spurring conservationists to action in Madagascar, which is home to about 7 percent of the world’s amphibian species.

“For many years, it appeared that Malagasy frogs had been living in a Bd fungus-free zone of the world, protected by the natural island isolation of Madagascar.  However, our results now clearly show that this is not the case,” said Raxworthy, a co-author on the paper who helped collect the first frog specimens that tested positive for Bd, which causes the infectious amphibian disease chytridiomycosis.

Read the full story on the Museum blog. 

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Chytrid confirmed in wild amphibians in Madagascar. And it’s astonishingly widespread. 

A paper that’s been in the works for a long time. Molly Bletz, PhD candidate at the Technische Unversität Braunschweig, together with a team of wildly international researchers, including her supervisor, Professor Miguel Vences, has confirmed the existence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the fungal pathogen that causes the often-fatal amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, across large swathes of Madagascar. 

Long-time followers will recall the post I made last year on the confirmation of Bd in animals coming into America from Madagascar. This time the data comes straight from the field. My reaction this time is different. Last time, nobody was prepared for the publication. This time, the effort has been huge, the data meticulously gathered, and the conclusions… not entirely unforeseen. The most important thing is that we are getting an eye on it across the country. We know where it is occurring when, and efforts, now coordinated by the recent ACSAM2 meeting, will be able to understand its impacts, and the future of the island’s amphibians. 

We are not panicking. Cool, and collected, we are going to do everything we can to understand this disease in Madagascar, and try to stop it from wiping out one of the planet’s most diverse amphibian communities. Just over half of all amphibians in Madagascar are thought to bear scientific names. Research on them - on every aspect of them - now is more urgent than ever before.

Read the full paper here!