Scientists have unraveled the dynamics of a deadly disease that is wiping out amphibian populations across the globe. Chytridiomycosis is caused by a microscopic aquatic fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that attacks the skin of amphibians.
This disease was discovered in 1998 and has already caused the decline or extinction of hundreds of amphibian species across the globe. This impact was recently described by scientists as “the most spectacular loss of vertebrate biodiversity due to disease in recorded history.”
The new findings, from two separate studies published in today’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), suggest that infection intensity — the severity of the disease among individuals — determines whether frog populations will survive or succumb to chytridiomycosis. The research identifies a critical tipping point in infection intensity, beyond which chytridiomycosis causes mass mortalities and extinctions.
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