Chytrid Fungus Confirmed On Madagascar Yet No Frogs Have Died From It

March 4, 2015

The chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) which has been killing off amphibian populations around the world for decades has now been discovered in Madagascar, a biological hotspot for amphibians and other animals. According to a study published in the journal Nature, the fungus was first detected in 2010 in mid to high elevation sites of the island and has a seasonal pattern of detectability during the dry season, the report said. 

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The researchers note that they are not sure how the fungus came about on Madagascar or even if the fungus was already present prior to their study. What they do know is that the fungus has 100 percent prevalence in five amphibian habitats on the island. But what is unique about the presence of the fungus on the island is that the researchers have not attributed a single amphibian death directly associated to the fungus, nor have they found a specimen suffering from the effects of the fungus. The researchers speculate that the frogs on Madagascar may be “pre-adapted to be resistant and/or tolerant to the Bd lineage present in Madagascar.” 

The researchers analyzed skin swabs and tissue samples of 4,155 frogs representing more than 500 species of frogs between 2005 and 2014 and found that a large number of frogs tested positive for the fungus, including in four families of native Malagasy frogs: Hyperoliidae (Heterixalus), Microhylidae (Platypelis and Scaphiophryne33), Ptychadenidae (Ptychadena) and Mantellidae (Boophis, Gephyromantis, Mantella, and Mantidactylus). These frogs are found in mid-to high elevation sites.

So could the amphibians on Madagascar provide a key to help other amphibians around the world to better coexist with the chytrid fungus? 

Categories: Big Boxes, Disease Management, Wild Frogs & Amphibians