Amphibian-Killing Fungus Found In Madagascar

Heterixalus punctatus, an endemic species of Madagascar Credit: Frank Vassen
Heterixalus punctatus, an endemic species of Madagascar Credit: Frank Vassen

The amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has been found in some populations of Malagasy amphibians. The fungus is responsible for the disease Chytridiomycosis, which has devastated amphibian populations worldwide. Madagascar was thought to be a safe haven from the disease, which makes the news especially disheartening for conservationists.

The outbreak was documented in a recent report published in the Journal, Scientific Reports. Interestingly, the report found evidence of the fungus emerging as early as 2010, but the widespread occurence has only recently been documented. The report suggests the prevalence of the fungus appears to be seasonally variable, with cool, dry conditions leading to a higher prevalence. While news of a B. dendrobatidis outbreak is not welcome, there appears to be some good news in that there is no evidence as of yet to suggest the fungus is inducing negative effects such as mass die-offs.

Heterixalus betsileo Credit: Brian Gratwicke
Heterixalus betsileo Credit: Brian Gratwicke

The vast majority of Madagascar’s amphibians are endemic, occurring nowhere else in the world, and the island’s amphibian diversity may represent an impressive 7% of the global amphibian diversity. The emergence of this fungus on the island represents a significant threat to one the world’s most significant amphibian hot spots. It is imperative that this threat is monitored and that steps are taken to mitigate any potential adverse effects at the earliest possible stages.


Rob SAbout the Author: Rob is a zoologist specialising in invasive freshwater bivalves. He is the PR Officer for The Herpetological Society of Ireland. Find him on Twitter here.




Related post: Progress in Fight Against Frog Killing Fungus.


Bletz, Molly C., et al. “Widespread presence of the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in wild amphibian communities in Madagascar.” Scientific Reports 5 (2015).

National Geographic

Photo credits:

Frank Vassen’s Flickr. Photo used under CC license.

Brian Gratwicke’s Flickr. Photo used under CC license.