North American salamanders are at high risk for death

North American salamanders are at high risk for death
Credit: Tiffany Yap

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - (Story credited to IFLS and UC Berkeley) A nasty new fungus is on the verge of invading the US and the North American continent and this fungus would destroy the North American salamander population.

There is a chance that we could stop the invasion before it hits the continent. The pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans only infects salamanders and can kill the little reptile in a matter of a week.

This fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) most likely originated in Asia and is getting spread through cargo ships. It was first identified in 2013 in Asia, but the salamanders there seem to be immune to it.

The fungus has invaded Europe and has a death rate of 96 percent for the salamanders there. The Netherlands has been hit the hardest with a large population of salamanders being killed already.

North American salamanders are highest at risk in the Gulf states, Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast.

Map Credited to: 2015 Science

The five largest ports in the Country are in the numbers above 1-5 (Los Angeles, Tampa, New York, Atlanta and San Francisco). These are the areas where this fungus has the greatest potential to land in the continent. Between 2010 and 2014, nearly 800,000 salamanders come through these ports.

The continent is home to nearly half of all salamander species on the planet. "Because salamanders are small, often nocturnal and live underground, they are an often overlooked but integral part of the ecosystem. They're frequently the top predator and can make up the majority of the animal biomass of a forest." Michelle Koo of UC Berkeley said.

A detection test already exists to determine if a salamander has the fungus, but this fungus will still likely be brought here is better management steps are not taken to avoid it. If we ban the trade and import of foreign salamanders we could prevent this fungus from ever reaching the western Hemisphere.

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