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Frog fungus spreads in Panama

A fungus that has eradicated more than 100 frog species across the globe has spread to an ecosystem in Panama that researchers hoped might hold out from infection a while longer. "The findings are a concern because it means the fungus will continue to move through eastern Panama, and we only have a [limited time] to do what we can to save the frogs, collect data, watch," linkurl:Karen Lips,;http://www.science.siu.edu/zoology/lips/ herpetologist at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, who

By | October 17, 2008

A fungus that has eradicated more than 100 frog species across the globe has spread to an ecosystem in Panama that researchers hoped might hold out from infection a while longer. "The findings are a concern because it means the fungus will continue to move through eastern Panama, and we only have a [limited time] to do what we can to save the frogs, collect data, watch," linkurl:Karen Lips,;http://www.science.siu.edu/zoology/lips/ herpetologist at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, who monitors frogs populations in Panama, told The Scientist in an Email. The origin of the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and how it fells frogs is unknown, but it has spread quickly in many ecosystems. It was first detected in Panama in the early nineties in mountain forests west of the Panama Canal. Last year linkurl:I reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53777/ on its incidence there -- researchers saw the spread slowing in the region. It had not been detected in frogs in the lower elevations near the canal, or on the eastern side, and ecologists reasoned that the low-elevation climate might not be conducive for the fungus' survival. But now, according to a new study, the pathogen -- called Chytrid fungus- - has finally been detected on the east side of the Panama Canal. The linkurl:report;http://www.springerlink.com/content/u6l4775128852478/?p=c5edcca1d67044a4b70eb5b00164a336π=3 in the journal EcoHealth, finds cases of the fungus in frogs in Soberania National Park, just east of the canal. "There has never been any evidence that anything can stop the spread" of the fungus, Lips said. "It made it through Mexico and the Nicaraguan depression, so the narrow strip that is the canal is no significant barrier, nor did we expect it to be." Although the fungus may have spread across the canal on its own, the paper suggests that humans facilitated its jump across the canal, added Lips.
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Avatar of: Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis

Posts: 1

October 20, 2008

Great to see Dr. Lips quoted on the canal leap. But I would like to know what her research team has learned during this "year of the frog" from their work in Panama. Could you do a story on that?

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