USF biologists link amphibian decline, global warming
A group of University of South Florida biologists have confirmed that worldwide amphibian declines are consistent with the introduction and spread of chytrid fungus, possibly the most deadly invasive species on the planet next to humans.
USF biologist and assistant professor Jason Rohr, left, and his colleagues concluded that the pattern of amphibian extinction was positively correlated with increased temperatures associated with global warming.
“More than 32 percent of amphibian species are threatened and more than 43 percent are experiencing some form of population decline,” Rohr said in a news release. “Unlike past mass extinctions, this one is driven by human activities.”
Chytrid fungi were long thought to be capable of infecting only invertebrates and vascular plants. In 1999, a new species, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, was discovered. It has since been linked with amphibian population declines on every amphibian-inhabited continent.
Rohr’s research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. The results have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online Early Edition.
Donna Winchester, higher education reporter