Biologists started to monitor the US salamanders in order to verify the impact of a new type of fungus that was brought from abroad. Almost 10,000 individuals will be kept under observation and tested to detect the early signs of a possible plight.
The first measures to prevent the disease spread were taken at the beginning of this year when the authorities embargoed the transfer of 201 species of salamanders.
Even if no cases were yet found in the US, the import of animals through ships brings a significant risk to the local populations. The authorities declared they will take all necessary actions to help preserve the amphibians for our future generations.
The Salamanders Fungus Threat
The fungus is Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans and has already caused the death of hundreds of populations of amphibians around the world.
In Holland, the disease had a huge impact. Dutch biologists say that the fungus can kill an entire population of salamanders at once. Very few animals survived the plague, which brought an immense threat to Holland’s ecosystems.
Europe was the most affected area so far. There, the fungus was able to wipe out an entire salamander population in just a few years.
Because of the high impact of the fungus, experts declared it to be a threat as significant as the syndrome plight affecting the bat population.
The monitoring done so far showed no reason to worry. However, starting with 2004 a couple of millions of salamanders may have been shipped from Asia into the US. Scientists believe that the animals causing the fungus outbreak in Netherlands, Germany, Britain and Belgium came by the same means of transport and were in fact imported from other continents.
Canada, which hosts around 15 species of salamanders, also started to take preventive measures.
The Importance of Salamanders in the Ecosystem
This type of amphibians represents reliable nourishment for larger animals. Because they feed off insects, they also keep hexapods under control.
Previous studies showed that a decline in the salamander population would affect the soil quality and even the climate. The amphibian populations are so large that they can even help to adjust the leaf litter retention and the levels of carbon capture.
US salamanders have the biggest diversity in the world, as a third of the worldwide known species live in North America.
Image Source: Wikipedia