Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This is very scary:

And it's actually real, and you shouldn't be finding out about it from a blog.

Click the link and read the whole article.

Deadly fungus devastating populations of amphibians

By John Biemer
Tribune staff reporter

A devastating fungus is sweeping the world, wiping out entire populations of amphibians at such a rate that Brookfield Zoo biologists are helping pull together a massive "Noah's Ark" project to capture frogs, toads and salamanders and put them in safe places.

A variety of factors already have combined to cause more than 120 amphibian species to vanish since 1980, in what one biologist has called "one of the largest extinction spasms for vertebrates in history."

A third of the world's nearly 6,000 amphibian species are threatened—their populations weak and susceptible to disease. If they go, ecosystems will tilt out of balance and potential medical breakthroughs—such as potent painkillers or HIV inhibitors—could be lost.

It is hard to determine how many species have been affected by the fungus because they cannot be assessed fast enough, but it has factored into most of the recent extinctions and declines, said Bob Lacy, the zoo's population geneticist and chairman of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.

That leaves no time for anything but a triage attempt to get some of the animals out of harm's way until this "tragically unique" disease can be further studied and countered, he said.

"It is a race against time, and it's a matter of months," Lacy said.

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