PerspectiveConservation

Amphibians on the brink

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Science  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6350, pp. 454-455
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0500

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Summary

Over the past three decades, the emergence of a globalized pandemic lineage of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has caused declines of amphibian species in Central America, Europe, Australia, and North America (see the figure). By 2004, where documented, 43.2% of amphibian species globally experienced some level of population decrease, and the amphibian chytrid fungus was identified as a major contributing factor for hundreds of species (1). The recent discovery of a related but functionally distinct chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, that has begun exterminating salamanders in Europe (2) fulfills predictions that further infectious fungal pathogens will continue to emerge (3). The threat of chytrids and similar fungal pathogens to areas where they have not yet emerged—for example, in New Guinea—is of critical conservation concern.