Non-native Fungus’ Potential Threat to U.S. Salamanders Detailed in USGS Report Released Jan. 20, 2016

On January 20, 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report asserting that a fungus causing population crashes in wild European salamanders might reach the United States and threaten amphibians, particularly salamanders, in this country.

According to a USGS news release on the report (Invasive Amphibian Fungus Could Threaten US Salamander Populations, 1/20/16), the report “highlights cooperative research and management efforts needed to develop and implement effective pre-invasion and post-invasion disease-management strategies if Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) enters and affects salamanders within the United States. …Although Bsal has not yet been found in wild U.S. salamander populations, scientists caution it is likely to emerge here because of the popularity of captive salamanders as household pets, in classrooms and in zoos; the captive amphibian trade is a known source of salamanders afflicted with the fungus. Amphibians are the most endangered groups of vertebrates worldwide, with another fungus closely related to Bsal (Bd) contributing to amphibian die-offs and extinctions global over the last two decades. …Bsal was first identified in 2013 as the cause of mass wild salamander die-offs in the Netherlands and Belgium. Captive salamander die-offs due to Bsal have occurred in the United Kingdom and Germany. Scientists believe Bsal originated in Asia and spread to wild European populations through the import and export of salamanders.”

The report is “Salamander chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) in the United States—Developing research, monitoring, and management strategies,” USGS Open-File Report 2015-1233, available online at http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr20151233.

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