U.S. salamanders are under threat from a deadly fungal pathogen from Europe.
Is it too late to save salamanders in the United States?
The U.S. government is fighting to keep the amphibians from losing ground in the country, and a fungus from abroad may be hammering local populations, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service embargoed importation and interstate transfer of 201 salamander species to halt the spread of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, a fungal pathogen that has been decimating amphibians worldwide.
There haven’t been any reports of this pathogen in North America yet, but it could be only a matter of time considering it has already destroying amphibian populations in Europe, and in just a matter of years.
“The fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, also known as Bsal or salamander chytrid, has wreaked havoc on salamander species overseas and poses an imminent threat to native salamander populations,” a January 2016 statement from FWS reads. “The fungus is not yet known to be found in the United States, and to help ensure it remains that way, the Service is publishing an interim rule that will take effect on January 28, 2016.”
The FWS and U.S. Geological Survey is analyzing 10,000 individual salamanders across North America for signs of Bsal. North America is home to nearly one third of all 655 known salamander species.
“The United States has the greatest diversity of native salamanders in the world, which play a critical role in maintaining our nation’s rich and diverse ecosystems,” FWS Service Director Dan Ashe said in the statement. “The Bsal fungus has the ability to devastate our native salamander populations, and we are doing everything in our power to protect and preserve these essential amphibians for future generations.”