From Alaska to Florida, a novel and yet-unnamed protozoan is knocking off tadpoles. Species vulnerable to "the beast" belong to the genus Rana, which includes leopard frogs, green frogs, and bullfrogs, says ecologist John C. Maerz.
His team at the University of Georgia in Athens stumbled across mass die-offs of southern leopard frog tadpoles in nearby ponds last year. Dissection showed the animals' innards peppered with spherical, one-celled parasites. Genetic testing confirmed these are loosely related to Perkinsus, a disease-causing organism that affects marine shellfish.
Maerz' group now offers the first published photos of the pathogen and descriptions of its effects in the September EcoHealth.