Chytrid now officially present in Madagascar

File:Mantella aurentiaca.jpg

Golden Mantella (Mantella aurentiaca), a critically endangered Malagasy species, and arguably the most poisonous frog in the world. Is the golden mantella now in danger from the amphibian chytrid fungus?

The unthinkable but inevitable has finally occurred.  Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is established in Madagascar. A number of surveys occurring from 2010-2014 have documented the incidence of Bd at locations throughout the country (see this Scientific Report). Based on the article published just this year, Bd has been sporadically found throughout Madagascar for the past few years. There is also evidence that the Bd in Madagascar could be related to the BdGPL lineage – BdGPL refers to the strain of chytrid that has been responsible for worldwide amphibian declines.

Although thus far no amphibian declines due to chytridiomycosis have been recorded from Madagascar, it may be only a matter of time. Alternatively, Malagasy frogs might have some sort of innate immunity to the chytrid fungus, or the strain of Bd present there is not dangerous at this time. In any case, as the authors state in the report, “researchers must adopt strict hygiene protocols.” This means that whether you are doing research or planning on a pleasure trip to Madagascar, please make sure to bleach your boots and other field gear between sites so as not to spread Bd. Until scientists learn more about the amphibian chytrid fungus in Madagascar, it is imperative that measures are taken to try to control its spread.

Madagascar is home to a diverse group of unique and endemic frogs, including species well-known from the pet trade, such as tomato frogs and mantellas. Several Malagasy species tentatively have shown suceptibility to Bd infection outside of Madagascar (for instance, Plethodontohyla tuberata in Tokyo). Although the situation in Madagascar may seem grim for these amazing frogs, fortunately, research groups such as Frog Probiotics are already on the ground in the country and working to develop methods of protection for Malagasy frogs. It is my hope that through research and conservation efforts, we will be able to avoid another mass frog extinction event.

Frog: 11, Fungus: 19

{Don’t let the fungus win! Donate to Frog Probiotics or other amphibian conservation projects today!}

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