Panamanian Golden Frog Threatened by Rapidly-Spreading Fungus

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Photo credit: Mehgan Murphy, National Zoo.

A deadly fungus – amphibian chytrid fungus – is breeding at an alarming rate in Panama’s cloud forest. And now the Panamanian golden frog is threatened with extinction. What can be done to save this amphibian species?

The Panamanian golden frog lives in and around streams at high elevations in the cloud forest. Instantly recognizable by its bright yellow body and dark spots, the Panamanian golden frog is viewed by people from the region in and around Panama as a symbol of cultural significance. Each of these poisonous frogs has a unique skin pattern. Due to habitat loss, over collection, pollution, climate change and the microscopic amphibian chytrid fungus, the species is nearly wiped out in the wild.

The amphibian chytrid fungus – also known as BD – was first described by National Zoological Park scientists over 10 years ago. It breeds in moist environments, thriving in the high elevations of Panama.

According to Matt Evans, biologist at the National Zoo, BD “devastates frog numbers, and there is now a loss of viable, reproducing amphibians in wild. We are actively studying BD to learn about how it moves and pulling these ‘red-zone’ frogs into captivity for breeding.” He is currently working with the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project to help protect the wild frog populations.

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Photo credit: Matt Evans, National Zoo

And the Panamanian golden frog isn’t the only amphibian species in danger – one third of all amphibians are now threatened with extinction. There is no known solution to stop BD from spreading, so researchers are working diligently to study its patterns before numerous amphibian species disappear from the planet forever.

Learn more about amphibian chytrid fungus research through the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project and get more information on the endangered Panamanian golden frog here

View spectacular images poisonous frogs.