Thursday, 7 June 2012

Trade rules must be tightened to halt frog-killing fungus


Frogs are in trouble. In the 1990s researchers in Spain, Australia and Central America discovered that amphibians in rainforests and mountain lakes were dying in large numbers. The killer, it turned out, was chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which has since been found around the world. Scientists have rushed to understand the disease, and have attempted different ways to mitigate its spread. But science alone is not sufficient. Mark Auliya, a herpetologist and trade-policy expert at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, says that policies have to change on an international level.
Auliya is part of the European Union (EU) project Risk Assessment of Chytridiomycosis to European Amphibian Biodiversity (RACE), in which teams of scientists are each looking at different aspects of the disease: genetics, physiological and behavioural effects, and geography. RACE will end in 2013 and Auliya is preparing to make a raft of policy recommendations based on the project. He spoke to Nature about the compelling need for new animal-trade legislation.

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