Green and golden bell frog.
Green and golden bell frog.

Fungal disease killing local frogs

TEMPERATURE variations resulting from global warming, may be helping a lethal fungal disease decimate the local frog population.

Scientists found that when temperatures vary unpredictably, frogs succumb faster to the disease that is killing amphibians around the world.

The amphibians' immune system loses its ability to cope with unpredictable temperature changes, research published in Nature Climate Change journal states.

Lawrence Orel, from the Environment and Heritage Office, confirmed the disease was "threatening" most frogs on the Northern Rivers.

Some of the local amphibians affected by the fungus were the green and golden bell frog, the barred frog and the south corroboree frog.

The fungus caused the skin to lose colour and peel, he said.

Although it was not yet known how the fungus kills frogs, it seems to affect their breathing.

"They come out into the open when they are unwell, to places they normally would not go," Mr Orel said.

The disease, called chytridiomycosis, was caused by a parasitic fungus, batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and was discovered in 1978 in south-east Queensland and identified in 1998.

Mr Orel said humans should not touch frogs which appeared to be sick.

"Under no circumstances should people take a sick frog, then release it somewhere else, as that can spread the disease to an otherwise unaffected area," Mr Orel said.

Anyone who sees a sick frog should phone the National Parks and Wildlife Service office at Alstonville on 02 6627 0200.

The fungus is found across most of Australia, particularly on the eastern coastal strip.



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