May 20, 2009

Deadly Frog Fungus Spreading Quickly In Philippines, Asia

A fatal fungus that has killed hundreds of different kinds of frogs in the US is now harming five different frog species in the Philippines, experts announced on Wednesday.

A nationwide survey conducted by US and Filipino scientists discovered that the Philippines is the third country in Asia to be affected by the chytrid fungus.

The fungus, which targets the skin of frogs and distresses the arrangement of tadpoles' body parts, is also in Japan and Indonesia.

The Luzon striped frog, one of the five species at risk, has virtually disappeared from the main Philippine island of Luzon, announced Arvin Diesmos, head of amphibians and reptiles at the National Museum of the Philippines.

The Luzon stream frog, two species of the Luzon fanged frog, and the Puddle frog are also infected. The night-time, water-dwelling frogs are threatened with extinction due to the gravity of the outbreak.

"This is a very serious threat to amphibian biodiversity in the Philippines," said Rafe Brown, a scientist at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute working on the study team.

"The Philippines is home to an incredibly diverse amphibian fauna. Along with forest destruction, pollution, and climate change, chytrid fungus may turn out to be the 'final blow' that sparks major amphibian extinctions in the archipelago," he added.

Brown stated that the team supposes that all of these contribute to the increase of the fungus.

592 of the Philippine's 1,137 species of amphibians, birds and mammals are at risk, says the environment and natural resources department.

The chytrid fungus has been connected to "hundreds" of amphibian extinctions in Europe, Australia and the US.