Scientists are expressing new concerns over a deadly fungus that kills essentially every salamander that it comes in contact with, or infects. Researchers have been working to figure out why a Bsal fungus is entirely lethal to U.S. salamanders. Interestingly, Bsal exists in Asia right alongside salamanders. However, the importing of salamanders has increased the likelihood of this fungus creating a problem with U.S. salamanders. It is a problem that has the science and biology communities jointly worried.
Bsal and salamanders can operate in harmony in Asia because the salamanders have built up an immunity to that. They have been exposed to the fungus for potentially millions of years, so this is not something that was just exposed a year ago, or a month ago. Meanwhile, here in the U.S. salamanders haven’t been exposed at the same frequency. This created legitimate concern as the salamander population, which was impacted by Bsal was found to be fatal in almost all of the salamanders impacted by the illness.
The scientists involved in the study say that the time is now to act in order to avoid a North American bio-diversity crisis. They requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service end the import of salamanders. This would be the only surefire way of stopping the transmission of the illness and infection. The authors of the study had a very grim outlook when it came to Bsal and the salamander population.
It read in part, “With no effective means to control spread of Bsal once it is established in wild host populations, Bsal invasion of North America could lead to rapid epizootic (wildlife epidemic) declines and extinctions in the world’s richest and most diverse salamander fauna.” It is a problem that has to be stopped now if we want to save the population of salamanders here in the U.S.
The Bsal fungus is something that can’t really be stopped against something like this. It acts quickly, and in an environment, which isn’t native to it – there are few barriers in place to prevent the fungus from spreading more quickly and creating havoc within the species that it is being worked into. This is a problem for more than just the biodiversity scientists who want to keep various species safe. This is a problem for the very animals that inhabit the various places around the world, which are looking for an effective way to combat some of the challenges that are now being felt – as imports become a bigger part of the business – even in terms of biodiversity.