There is a new infectious disease lurking around in the waters. It is not going to endanger humans, but it is going to put the frog populations in peril. It is a single-cell microbe called “protists” and it is currently infecting tadpoles from all over the world.
Let’s start with the basics: what is a tadpole? A tadpole is practically a baby amphibian. The majority of tadpoles are aquatic, but there are some terrestrial ones as well.
The microbe known as “protists” was found in tadpoles’ livers ant the main reason why scientists are concerned and raising awareness about the disease is because it was identified in six different countries from three different continents. The study was published in the National Academy of Sciences Journal.
Thomas Richards, an Exeter University and study co-leader, expressed concern regarding the global frog population. Richards says that infectious diseases are one of the main reasons why frogs have to suffer. If we allow this new microbe to roam free we are simply encouraging the frogs’ extinction.
The current global “frog situation” is not an appealing one by any means. Back in 2008, a percentage of 32 frog species were deemed extinct or endangered while another 42 percent were categorized in decline. This means that around 26 percent of the world’s frog population is living as it should be.
There is speculation among scientists that the reason behind this extinction is Earth’s adaptation to the sixth “mass extinction event”. According to specialists, extinction occurs so fast that it can be comparable to that of the dinosaurs’.
Further studies need to be conducted in order to see how this microbe spreads across different species of frogs. For the time being, we are not exactly aware of how difficult the situation might be for these amphibians, but it is possible that the microbe evolves under certain conditions which we can identify and change with human interference.
While the scientific struggle to help amphibians goes on, frogs and toads still remain one of the most fragile species on the planet which we must find a way to protect in the near future.
Photo Credits enca.com