Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 15, 2023

Contact:

Tiffany Yap, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 847-5838, tyap@biologicaldiversity.org
Sonia Ghose, UC Davis, (510) 816-2706, slghose@ucdavis.edu

New Study Reveals Deadly Disease Spread Among African Amphibians

Fungal Pathogen Poses Serious Threat to Frogs Across Continent

DAVIS, Calif.— Multiple strains of a deadly fungal pathogen are spreading among frogs across Africa, posing serious and widespread threats to amphibian populations, according to a scientific study published today in Frontiers in Conservation Science.

Using data that spans 165 years, scientists identified the emergence of the deadly fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, in the years after 2000, which aligns with reported die-offs across the continent. The findings shed new light on an elusive emerging infectious disease and show the urgent need to end the wildlife trade and prevent further disease spread.

“The more we learn about the global threats to amphibians, the more we understand the severity of the extinction crisis,” said Tiffany Yap, DEnv/Ph.D., coauthor of the study and a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The prevalence of this deadly disease tells us that increasing amphibian protections and halting the dangerous wildlife trade are more important than ever.”

Amphibians are among the most vulnerable groups of vertebrates, with more than 40% of species threatened with extinction. The emergence of Bd, along with habitat loss and a warming climate, has driven major population declines in amphibians. Although the study analyzed records from 36 African nations, Bd has been documented in the United States and on every continent where there are amphibians.

“While catastrophic impacts of Bd have been well documented in many parts of the world, there have been fewer studies in Africa,” said Sonia Ghose, first author of the study and a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Davis. “Our findings indicate that disease-driven amphibian declines and extinctions may be occurring in Africa that no one knows about, making research and mitigation efforts crucial moving forward.”

The Center has worked hard to fight the amphibian extinction crisis in the United States and around the world. This work includes obtaining safeguards and recovery plans for imperiled amphibians and reptiles, securing import bans for salamanders, and prohibiting toxic pesticide use near amphibian habitats.

In February the Center launched a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for delaying Endangered Species Act protections for more than a dozen species, including four subpopulations of foothill yellow-legged frogs in California.

RSCardioglossa_melanogaster_David_Blackburn_FPWC
Amiet’s long-fingered frog (Cardioglossa melanogaster) from Mount Manengouba, Republic of Cameroon. Credit: David C. Blackburn. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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