Decline in frog populations

New Scientist 27 June 1998 reported...

Frog populations are thought to have been in decline for some years now. Any number of scenarios have been postulated to explain their decline and disappearance with some of the more 'popular' being concerned with changes in climate and the ozone layer due to the effect of greenhouse gases.

One of problems for any one hypotheses is that the declines have been recorded worldwide from low to high altitudes and from low to high latitudes. Consequently no single hypothesis has been able to explain all of the populations that are known to have reduced in number.

Now scientists have found that the very people most concerned with solving the problem of declining numbers may be the inadvertent cause of the decline. Yes, the finger is pointing at scientists who conduct research on frogs; or more specifically, at a fungus which is transmitted by humans. 

The fungus coats the undersides and legs of the frogs which has the effect of suffocating the frogs as they breathe their skins. While the fungus has been found in the US and Australia, frogs from Australia, Panama, and the US are known to have been affected by the fungus.

There is still some thought that the fungus is just one factor involved in the decline; that other factors such as a thinned ozone layer resulting in increased ultraviolet radiation or agricultural chemicals may also be involved.