The population of amphibians are in more peril than previously thought, as a tadpole disease threatens frogs around the world and might lead to their endangerment or even extinction. The statistics are worrying where the worldwide frog population is concerned, with numbers declining alarmingly fast.
An essential part of numerous ecosystems across the globe is now in danger due to a new disease found in tadpoles in six countries across three continents. The now called “protists” are single-celled microbes that have be ability of storing themselves into the DNA of a tadpole and causing the disease.
Protists can be found in the liver of tadpoles and has been discovered across all types of habitats, ranging from tropical weather to a more temperate climate. There is apparently no region that the infectious agent cannot hit, which threatens the lives of amphibians everywhere and only adding to the already quickly declining numbers.
According to Thomas Richards at the University of Exeter, the microbe is a distant relative of the Perkinsea parasite, that is mostly known to affect marine animals, oysters and algae. An immediate action could be the only solution to combat this infectious disease that is spread across the frog population worldwide.
Amphibians are considered endangered and currently one of the most rapidly disappearing creature on the face of the Earth. In 2008, 32% of frog species have been deemed either endangered or extinct, and another 42% were considered to be in steep decline. The infection is just one of the many contributors that needs to be fixed before further damage is caused.
According to the study’s lead author, there is a need for an answer as to how this infection can be lessened, stopped or prevented to successfully protect the rest of the amphibians worldwide from suffering the same fate and, thus, delivering an effective blow to our environment. They are excellent contributors to their ecosystems that might soon be gone.
Scientists suggest that this might be clue that a sixth mass extinction is currently happening across our planet. The amphibian population’s serious decline is so fast that it seems to be rivaling that of dinosaurs, in only 250 years since it started.
Other causes that may affect the frog population worldwide are the destruction of their natural habitat, newly introduced species, chemical pollution, climate changes and overall collection, besides the epidemic diseases that are now apparently surfacing. The last 50 years especially have not been kind to the amphibians.
Image source: amphibianrescue.org