by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) April 20, 2017
Europe's already endangered salamander population faces extinction due to a new, virulent fungus that also poses a broader threat to biodiversity, according to a new study.
Even a small amount of the highly infectious pathogen could wipe out fire salamanders from Western Europe, as the amphibian lacks the immune response to fight it off, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.
"The fungus presents a 'perfect storm'," said senior author An Martel, a professor at Ghent University in Belgium.
"The result is that within six month's time, infected fire salamander populations are reduced by more than 90 percent, and are finally extirpated."
Following an outbreak in 2014, a team of biologists led by Ghent University monitored a colony of vulnerable salamanders for two years, leading to the grim discovery of the pathogen's fatal impact.
Fungal spores -- protected by cells with thick, water-resistant exteriors -- have a long lifespan and can thrive even when they do not inhabit a living organism.
The pathogen can spread through soil, water and air. It can also attach itself to less susceptible birds or frogs, which in turn spread the infection to salamanders.
Dubbed "Bsal" -- short for Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans -- the deadly fungi first appeared on the European continent in 2010.
Scientists believe the global trade in forestry, agricultural and wildlife species are responsible for the invasion of fungi in non-native habitats.
Given the super-fungus' characteristics -- high virulence and rapid expansion -- biologists worry that methods to contain the disease may prove ineffective.
"Classical measures to control animal diseases such as vaccination and repopulation will not be successful and eradication of the fungus from the ecosystem is unlikely," said Gwij Stegen, one of the authors.
Worcester MA (SPX) Apr 20, 2017
Ecologists who study flowering plants have long believed that flowers evolved with particular sets of characteristics - unique combinations of colors, shapes, and orientations, for example - as a means of attracting specific pollinators. But a recent paper in the journal Ecology suggests that flowers that are visited almost exclusively by hummingbirds are actually designed not to lure birds, but ... read more
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|