Some areas of Central America have lost more than 40 percent of their amphibian species

Species of fungus, driven by trade, travel and climate change, pose a mounting threat to food supplies and biodiversity, scientists have warned recently.

Widely unknown to the general public, seven fungal epidemics are under way, striking bees, bats, frogs, soft corals and sea turtles as well as rice and wheat, they said.

Human health and livelihoods are at stake, for fungus costs $60 billion a year in losses to corn, wheat and rice alone, according to their assessment, published by the science journal Nature.

“In both animals and plants, an unprecedented number of fungal and fungal-like species have recently caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species, and are jeopardising food security,” it warned.

The science journal Nature said a lethal skin fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, discovered in 1997, has infected 500 species of frogs and toads in 54 countries, on all continents where amphibians are found.

University of Maryland herpetologist Karen Lips has conducted intensive surveys of frogs and toads in Central America since 1998, and was one of the first scientists to sound the warning calls about the devastation chytridiomycosis–an infectious disease caused by the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) fungus–had wreaked on the amphibian fauna in this region.

All the intense herping in Central America has begun to pay off. Scientists have now named 197 species in Costa Rica and Panama and have described 15% of these just in the last seven years. Scientists started Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project to rescue frogs before they go extinct from the fungus, which has hit particularly hard in this region.

By Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA 24

About ANCA24canada

Environmental, Ecologists and Conservationist news from the Americas
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