Thursday, 20 April 2017

'Perfect storm' threatens Europe's salamanders

By Helen Briggs BBC News

Urgent action is needed to protect wild salamanders in Europe from a deadly infection, say scientists.

The disease may end up wiping out all vulnerable species, with zoos and gene banks the only conservation option, they warn.

A fungal infection introduced to northern Europe several years ago behaves as a "perfect storm", say experts.

It persists in the environment and may be spread by newts and birds.

The fungus, known as B. salamandrivorans, or Bsal, killed almost all fire salamanders in an outbreak in The Netherlands in 2014.

Since then, there have been outbreaks in wild salamanders and newts in Belgium and Germany.

Researchers led by An Martel of Ghent University in Belgium, are calling for urgent monitoring across Europe.

However, they say that there are few options to prevent the disease spreading in the wild, meaning conservation efforts should focus on zoos, captive breeding and gene banks.

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