May 26, 2009

Chytridiomycosis in Asia

Of the Earth's amphibian-harboring continents (all but Antarctica), Asia was until recently unique in not yet having been invaded by the amphibian chytrid fungus (Bd). That now seems to be changing quickly. During the last few years ago Bd was reported from Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, all countries around the periphery of this amphibian-rich continent. In the last few weeks Bd was reported from the Philippines, another country on Asia's edge. For a description of the amphibian fauna of the Philippines, check out Herpwatch Philippines.

Given that elsewhere in the world, including Australia, Central America, and California's Sierra Nevada, Bd spread as a distinct wave it seems likely that these initial occurrences of Bd in Asia represent the first outbreaks in what will become a wave of infections. Given the high amphibian species diversity in Asia and high levels of endemism, the spread of Bd across this continent will almost certainly result in hundreds of species extinctions.

Will we find a way to stop the spread of this disease or will our only role be to describe Asia's amphibian extinctions

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