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Saving salamanders from amphibian killer may take extreme measures

Experience from outbreaks of lethal Bd fungus may help defend North America’s salamander paradise

By
4:25pm, February 13, 2016
salamander

SAVE OUR SALAMANDERS  North American biologists hope a new import ban — and help from citizen scientists — will defend the continent’s extraordinary diversity of salamanders, like this Ensatina salamander, from deadly Bsal fungus.

WASHINGTON — North America, a Garden of Eden for salamanders, faces a dire threat from a recently discovered fungal disease. But biologists say that lessons learned from the last worldwide wave of amphibian die-offs are helping to rush a new animal import ban and other measures into effect that could prevent the introduction and spread of the deadly disease here.

Fears of widespread die-offs come from the 2013 discovery in northern Europe of a previously unrecognized Batrachochytrium fungus nicknamed Bsal (SN: 10/5/13, p. 18). This fungus has already ravaged populations of rare salamanders in the Netherlands by eating away their skin. There’s no known way to rid most wild populations of the disease. But the good news is that there’s no sign — yet — that Bsal has reached North America, Karen Lips of the University of

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