Bullfrogs Aid Rapid Amphibian Decline with Deadly Pathogen--But Also Die

Amphibians are rapidly declining across the globe. Frogs are disappearing from forests, salamanders from brush and newts from streams. About 40 percent of all amphibian species are declining or already extinct. In fact, a recent study revealed that Red-Listed amphibians were disappearing from habitat at a phenomenal rate of 11.6 percent per year, which means they'll be gone from half of their habitats in about six years. This has major implications for ecosystems since amphibians act as efficient predators of insects while providing valuable nutrients to creatures further up the food chain. While there are several reasons behind this decline, the one that stands out is a fungal disease that's spread by bullfrogs. The pathogen itself is called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as Bd or chytrid fungus. It can kill amphibians and spread quickly through habitats. "At least so far as the chytrid fungus is involved, bullfrogs may not be the villains they are currently made out to be," said Stephanie Gervasi, a zoology researcher in the OSU College of Science, in a news release. "The conventional wisdom is that bullfrogs, as a tolerant host, are what helped spread this fungus all over the world. But we've now shown they can die from it just like other amphibians."

Science World Report, June 21, 2013