Nearly 1/3 of the world's amphibian species are on the brink of extinction.
A new parasitic disease may be contributing to serious declines in global frog populations, according to study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The disease is caused by protists, a type of single-celled microbe.
In this study, scientists tested tadpoles originating from six different countries across three continents; the parasite was present in tadpole livers in both tropical and temperate sites, and across all continents tested.
“Global frog populations are suffering serious declines and infectious disease has been shown to be a significant factor,” said Thomas Richards of Exeter University, who co-led the study.
“We now need to figure out if this novel microbe causes significant disease and could be contributing to the frog population declines.”
Amphibians are among the most threatened of all animal groups. In 2008, 32 percent of frog species were categorized as threatened or extinct and 42 percent were listed as in decline.
Some scientists say falling populations of amphibians and other animals suggest the Earth is undergoing a sixth so-called “mass extinction event”, with extinctions happening so fast they rival the decline and death of the dinosaurs in just 250 years.