Nav: Home

UK wild newt species free from flesh-eating fungus for now...

March 12, 2019

The UK's wild newt populations seem to be free from a flesh-eating lethal fungus known to be prevalent in privately-owned amphibians across Western Europe, a nationwide investigation has found.

Scientists from international conservation charity ZSL and its research partners, are now urging private amphibian owners to enforce strict biosecurity measures to protect the UK's wild newt population from the catastrophic devastation that Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (or Bsal) could cause.

The research, conducted by ZSL (Zoological Society of London), The University of Exeter and the Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK, published in Scientific Reports today (12 March 2019) combined data gathered from skin swabbing more than 2,400 wild newts in ponds across the UK, along with data from newt deaths reported to ZSL's Garden Wildlife Health project. The results of the investigations revealed Bsal was not present in the samples collected.

In 2010, the deadly fungus was responsible for a 99% decline in a monitored population of fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) in the Netherlands, with population declines expanding into Belgium and Germany, and led to the extinction of local populations within months of being introduced.

Professor Andrew Cunningham, Deputy Director of Science at ZSL and lead author on the paper said: "Identifying potential wildlife health risks before they develop is crucial to protecting species from the potentially devastating impacts of disease. Having identified that Bsal appears to be absent from wild newts in the UK, we now need to ensure effective biosecurity policies governing the trade of amphibians into the UK are in place, including adequate quarantine and testing of imported amphibians."

Dr Becki Lawson, Senior Research Fellow at ZSL's Institute of Zoology said: "We know that infection with Bsal fungus is widespread in captive amphibians in the UK, therefore amphibian owners must take steps to avoid any direct or indirect contact between wild and pet newts, by keeping animals indoors and disinfecting equipment and tanks thoroughly. These actions will help to safeguard the health of both wild and captive amphibians".

"ZSL's Garden Wildlife Health Project monitors the health of the wildlife found in British gardens, through collating public reports of ill or deceased animals and undertaking subsequent post-mortem examinations. Reports from the public provided crucial information for this study."

The UK has three native species of newt - the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), the smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) and the palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus). The great crested newt is a fully protected species in which Bsal infection is known to be fatal. Newts play an important role in healthy freshwater ecosystems in the UK.
-end-
To find out more about the Garden Wildlife Health Project or to report sightings, visit: http://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org

A. A. Cunningham, F. Smith, T J. McKinley, M. Perkins, L. Fitzpatrick, O. N. Wright and B. Lawson (2019) Apparent absence of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in wild urodeles in the United Kingdom. Scientific Reports. http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-39338-4

Notes to editors

Media contact


Emma Ackerley, emma.ackerley@zsl.org / +44 (0)20 7449 6288

Related images available here: https://zslondon.sharefile.com/d-se5a4b02bb114741b

ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

Founded in 1826, ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Our mission is realised through our ground-breaking science, our active conservation projects in more than 50 countries and our two Zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information visit http://www.zsl.org

ZSL's Amphibian Disease Symposium

From the 24 - 25 April 2019, ZSL will be running a symposium titled "Mitigating single pathogen and co-infections that threaten amphibian biodiversity". The two-day symposium is the first international event to approach chytrid and ranaviruses as a combined threat to amphibians. This symposium will bring together the amphibian research and conservation communities to develop 21st century strategies for combating rapidly emerging mixed infections that are already threatening global amphibian biodiversity. For more information or to register please visit: https://www.zsl.org/science/whats-on/mitigating-single-pathogen-and-co-infections-that-threaten-amphibian-biodiversity

Garden Wildlife Health

Garden Wildlife Health is a collaborative project between ZSL (Zoological Society of London), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Froglife and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which aims to safeguard the health of British garden wildlife by conducting research into the causes and trends of diseases in a variety of species (garden birds, amphibians, reptiles and hedgehogs), and investigating their impacts on the affected populations (http://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org). The project receives funding from the UK Department for the Environment Food & Rural Affairs and Welsh Government through the Animal Plant & Health Agency's Diseases of Wildlife Scheme Scanning Surveillance Programme (Project ED1600), the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.

Disease factsheets on the common disease conditions affecting British garden birds are available at the website, http://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org.

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is a newly-discovered species of chytrid fungus that can infect and kill a wide range of newts and salamanders. This fungus became established in a few wild amphibian populations in parts of mainland Europe in 2010, where it has caused devastating population declines. It is thought to be spread internationally by the amphibian trade and unless all concerned (pet traders, scientists and amphibian keepers) take great care and apply some simple biosecurity measures, there is a risk that it could be introduced to captive and wild amphibian populations elsewhere in Europe.

During 2006, it was estimated that 131,000 live amphibians were imported into the UK with 98% believed to be used for the legal pet trade. International trade controls on diseases solely impacting on wildlife have historically not been instigated. However, the European Commission recently implemented controls to prevent the spread of Bsal within the European Union, but the small-scale trade of newts among hobbyists is unregulated. Furthermore, new costs providing hurdles for traders could lead to further unregulated movement.

More information on the signs of amphibian disease and advice on biosecurity measures can be found at: https://www.gardenwildlifehealth.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/02/Amphibian-disease-alert_June-2015.pdf

Use of ZSL Images and Video

Photographs, video or graphics distributed by ZSL (Zoological Society of London) to support this media release may only be used for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the persons in the image or facts mentioned in the media release or image caption. Reuse of the picture or video requires further permission from the ZSL press office.

Zoological Society of London

Related Amphibians Articles:

Microplastics affect the survival of amphibians and invertebrates in river ecosystems
In collaboration with the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) in Madrid, the UPV/EHU's Stream Ecology research group has conducted two parallel studies to look at how the larvae of one freshwater amphibian and one invertebrate evolved during 15 days' exposure to microplastics at different concentrations.
Zoology: Biofluorescence may be widespread among amphibians
Biofluorescence, where organisms emit a fluorescent glow after absorbing light energy, may be widespread in amphibians including salamanders and frogs, according to a study in Scientific Reports.
Road salt harmful to native amphibians, new research shows
The combined effects of chemical contamination by road salt and invasive species can harm native amphibians, according to researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
When naproxen breaks down, toads croak
A new study in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry takes a harder look at the effects a common anti-inflammatory medication and its degradation products have on amphibians.
Environmentally friendly control of common disease infecting fish and amphibians
Aquatic organisms in marine systems and freshwaters are threatened by fungal and fungal-like diseases globally.
Amphibians infected by ranavirus found in Atlantic rain forest
Ranavirus is linked to amphibian decline or extinction in other parts of the world, but in Brazil, it has been reported only in captive animals.
Light at night is harmful for amphibians, new research shows
Light at night might be convenient for humans, but it's having a detrimental effect on amphibian populations, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Are otters threatening amphibian populations?
The Eurasian otter typically eats fish, but amphibians, which are in global decline, are also part of its diet, especially when fish are scarce.
Even more amphibians are endangered than we thought
Due to a lack of data on many amphibian species, only about 44% of amphibians have up-to-date assessments on their risk of extinction, compared to nearly 100% of both birds and mammals.
Many more amphibian species at risk of extinction than previously thought
Frogs already knew it wasn't easy being green, but the going just got a lot tougher for the 1,012 additional species of amphibians who have now been newly identified as at risk of extinction in a Yale-led study.
More Amphibians News and Amphibians Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.