Scientists have determined that seven Australian frog species are on the brink of extinction as a result of a deadly fungus spread. The team from the University of Melbourne, Taronga Zoo, Southern Cross University (Lismore), and James Cook University requests for a $15 million to fund projects that will save these frogs.
The species threatened by extinction are the southern corroboree frog, northern corroboree frog, spotted tree frog, Tasmanian tree frog, Baw Baw frog, Kroombit tinker frog and armoured mist frog. However, with their recommended action plan, the scientists will be able to monitor frog populations, gather more insight about this deadly fungus, and conduct breeding programmes which the corroboree frogs and the Baw Baw frogs have already been a part of.
Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews says the plan was reviewed at the end of 2015 and will be presented before Environment Minister Greg Hunt as soon as possible, most probably in May.
According to David Newell from Southern Cross University (Lismore), six frog species have already become extinct due to the spread of the fungus known as chytrid in the country. Until now, scientists remain unsure about the fungus’ origins but they believe it reached Queensland in the 1970s.
Chytrid affects the skin, which deteriorates the frogs’ respiratory system and ability to hydrate themselves. Chytrid is not limited to Australia and Newell says this is a global phenomenon, devastating hundreds of species around the globe. Still, Newell laments that the funds to support the plan have not been renewed yet. The scientist insists that the recommended fund is not even too much.
While solving the Australian frog problem is important, the Threatened Species Commissioner asserts that money should not be the only focus. Andrews recommends finding alternatives to prevent this from happening.
“What we need to focus on rather than the money is the applied ecology on the ground,” Andrews argues. “As we find innovative solutions, costs can come down.”