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Posted Mon Oct 13 2008: from Mongabay:
Armageddon for amphibians? Frog-killing disease jumps Panama Canal
Chytridiomycosis -- a fungal disease that is wiping out amphibians around the world -- has jumped across the Panama Canal, report scientists writing in the journal EcoHealth. The news is a worrying development for Panama's rich biodiversity of amphibians east of the canal.... While scientists don't yet know the origin of the fungus, they suspect it might be the African clawed frog, a species that has been shipped around the world for research purposes. The fungus is highly transmissible and has spread to at least four continents, in some cases probably introduced unintentionally by humans in the treads of their shoes. As it spreads, the disease lays waste to more than 80 percent of amphibians across a wide range of habitats, including those that are undisturbed by humans. Some researchers have suggested that climate change could be creating conditions that exacerbate the impact of the pathogen -- which predominantly affects highland species -- although the theory is still controversial.
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