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What happened to all the Frogs?

Canadian (Jan 1, 2014) As many people have noticed, frog populations are in decline over the past 15 years and millions of frogs have disappeared. Scientists have found that an infectious fungus called chytrid is the cause of the mortality. This fungus has now spread to Kansas, specifically the Wichita area. The research was conducted by students from Wichita State University.

Chytrid is a pathological fungus and it has been linked to dramatic population declines or even extinctions of amphibian species in western North America, Central America, South America, eastern Australia, and other locations. It is capable of causing sporadic deaths in some amphibian populations and 100% mortality in others. While the fungus has been found in neighboring states, this is the first evidence that it has finally reached the central plains area. The last study was conducted in Kansas in 2007 and the tests showed negative for the 5 frogs tested, at that time. The research was conducted by undergraduate and graduate research over 2 years under field ecology at WSU’s Department of Biology and their findings will be published by Herpetological Review.

10 students from WSU lead the research. They captured the frogs and swabbed them, and recorded surrounding water quality. This builds on the research by WSU profession Karen Brown and her students. Graduate student Timothy Eberl, conducted DNA analyses this summer and hopes that this research will help amphibian populations and stated: “we are speaking of possible keystone species within the aquatic environments of this state, and the potential trickle-down effect may have a longer reach than even we realize.”

This is not the first time that a fungus has decimated a population lately. The fungus that has attacked the bat populations in Canada and USA, called white nose syndrome, has been discussed in previous articles on our website. Check out the “Older Entries” for these articles.

There are ways you can prevent the spread of this fungus among amphibian populations. Never take a frog from one area or pond and put it in another. Always clean your clothing (especially muddy boots) and fishing equipment. Always wash off your car and boat and remove all water and disinfect live wells. Use disposable gloves and throw them out after use. An example of how fungus can spread is that white nose syndrome in bats was never in Canada or USA and was brought here by contaminated clothing from Europe.

Wayne Sheridan for Canadian