A fungus that has devastated amphibian populations around the world may cause the extinction of seven Australian frog species if no action is taken to help fight the disease, Australian scientists say.
Scientists have asked the Australian government for $15 million in funding over a five year period in an effort to combat Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or the chytrid fungus. The fungus has already caused the extinction of six frog species native to Australia in the last 40 years, when the fungus was first discovered in Australia, according to the Brisbane Times.
Australian frogs in danger of extinction are:
- Southern Corroboree Frog
- Northern Corroboree Frog
- Baw Baw Frog
- Spotted Tree Frog
- Tasmanian Tree Frog
- Kroombit Tinker Frog
- Armoured Mist Frog
Two of the frogs on the list, the Kroombit Tinker Frog and the Armoured Mist Frog, are listed as critically endangered by Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The scientists have put forth several potential solutions to help the frogs better fight the disease, which turns the permeable skin of these keystone species into a leathery-like texture, making it impossible for the frogs to absorb water and breathe. Some of the proposals include genetically modifying the threatened frog species, and relocating certain species that are better able to adapt to change.
“In amphibians, skin is a major organ that frogs rely on for breathing,” Dr. Lee Skerratt, senior research fellow at James Cook University, told the Brisbane Times.
“It [chytridiomycosis] grows within the cells in the skin and destroys the skin function and the frogs can’t maintain their iron levels and other key elements that allow them to maintain balance,” he said to the news outlet. “They end up dying from a heart attack from lack of potassium and iron, it is the equivalent of us not drinking and exercising and not replacing our electrolytes.”
Skeratt said that the government had funded frog research in the late 1990s and early 2000s but that funding has become non-existent as other animals such as koalas and tasmanian devils received funding.