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  1. #1
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    Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Imagine a world with lots of biting insects (and the diseases they can carry) and no natural enemies?
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    Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    DORIE TURNER

    Associated Press

    ATLANTA — The familiar melody of ribbits, croaks and chirps is disappearing as a mysterious killer fungus wipes out frog populations around the globe, a phenomenon likened to the extinction of dinosaurs.

    Scientists are meeting Thursday and Friday in Atlanta to organize a worldwide effort to stem the deaths by asking zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens to take in threatened frogs until the fungus can be stopped.

    The aim of the group called Amphibian Ark is to prevent the world's more than 6,000 species of frogs, salamanders and wormlike sicilians from disappearing. Scientists estimate that up to 170 species of frogs have become extinct in the past decade from the fungus and other causes and that an additional 1,900 species are threatened.

    “This is the precedent of a disease working its way across an entire species on the scale of all mammals, all birds or all fish,” said Joseph Mendelson, curator of herpetology at Zoo Atlanta and an organizer of Amphibian Ark. “Humans would be absolutely stupid if they didn't pay attention to that.”

    Amphibians – of which frogs make up the majority – are a vital part of the food chain, eating insects that other animals do not touch and connecting the world of aquatic animals to land dwellers. Without amphibians, the insects that would go unchecked would threaten public health and food supplies.

    Amphibians also serve important biomedical purposes. Some species produce a chemical used as a pain reliever for humans; one species is linked to a chemical that disables the virus that causes AIDS.

    Amphibian Ark wants zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums in each country to take in at least 500 frogs from a threatened species to protect them from the killer fungus, which is called chytrid fungus. Each frog would be cleaned to make sure it does not introduce the blight into the protected area.

    The group estimates it will cost between $400-million and $500-million (U.S.) to complete the project. It is launching a fundraising campaign next year to create an endowment.

    The scientists say the amphibian collection is simply a stopgap. It buys time and prevents more species from going extinct while researchers figure out how to keep amphibians from dying off in the wild.

    The fungus is not the only thing deadly to amphibians, it's just killing them faster than development, pollution and global warming, said George Rabb, the retired head of the Chicago's Brookfield Zoo and a leader in Amphibian Ark. Scientists will have to closely monitor frog populations returned to the wild once the fungus is eliminated, he said.

    “Right now with global warming and the garbage heap we put in the atmosphere, there are going to be risks,” said Mr. Rabb, one of the leading U.S. conservation scientists. “That's why we'll need people from other professional fields – epidemiology, climate change.”

    Scientists are not quite sure of the fungus's origin, but they suspect it may be Africa. The African clawed frog, which carries the fungus on its skin and is immune to its deadly effects, has been shipped all over the world for research.

    The clawed frog was also used in hospitals in the 1940s as a way to detect pregnancy in women. It produces eggs when injected with the urine of a pregnant woman.

    The fungus works like a parasite that makes it difficult for the frogs to use their pores, quickly causing them to die of dehydration. It has been linked to the extinction of amphibians from Australia to Costa Rica.

    Last month, Japan reported its first cases of frog deaths from the fungus, prompting research groups to declare an emergency in the country. On the Caribbean island of Dominica, the fungus has almost wiped out the mountain chicken, a frog species considered an island delicacy.

    At Yosemite National Park in California, the mountain yellow-legged frog is close to extinction. The park has only 650 frog populations left, but 85 per cent are infected with the fungus, and the growing quiet along the park's lakes is evident as many of the frogs are dying.

    .

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Wow, now I'm starting to feel bad about how I treated them as a youth :o

  3. #3
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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by jigglepete
    Wow, now I'm starting to feel bad about how I treated them as a youth :o
    The frogs or those trying to save them from extinction?


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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    The frogs or those trying to save them from extinction?


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    HA :) ! Yes, the frogs...used to dig little colluseums and have crayfish/frog battles to the death...I'm sorry :o I appologize to every amphibian...

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    PS if reincarnation is the "truth" I'll be eatin' bugs for sure!

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by jigglepete
    PS if reincarnation is the "truth" I'll be eatin' bugs for sure!
    LOL, well, that's something to look forward to isn't it? ;)


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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    I'm surprised there wasn't a "Donate Now to Save the Frogs" button at the bottom of the page! The poor critters are going to have to compete with whales and Spotted Owls for do-gooder donations.
    Hey, maybe it's Mother Nature's way of saying "Good Bye Frogs. You've served your purpose; now you're toast. Earth doesn't need you anymore". :eek:
    Last edited by phlipper; 02-17-2007 at 01:59 AM.

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by phlipper
    I'm surprised there wasn't a "Donate Now to Save the Frogs" button at the bottom of the page! The poor critters are going to have to compete with whales and Spotted Owls for do-gooder donations.
    Hey, maybe it's Mother Nature's way of saying "Good Bye Frogs. You've served your purpose; now you're toast. Earth doesn't need you anymore". :eek:
    If that's the case, the WB network is in deep doodoo ;)

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by phlipper
    I'm surprised there wasn't a "Donate Now to Save the Frogs" button at the bottom of the page! The poor critters are going to have to compete with whales and Spotted Owls for do-gooder donations.
    Hey, maybe it's Mother Nature's way of saying "Good Bye Frogs. You've served your purpose; now you're toast. Earth doesn't need you anymore". :eek:
    Well, stand in line. Because once they are gone it will then be the birds and then mammals and then fish.

    Humans are considered mammals.

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    Well, stand in line. Because once they are gone it will then be the birds and then mammals and then fish.

    Humans are considered mammals.

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    I feel like such a jerk, now. :(

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by phlipper
    I feel like such a jerk, now. :(
    LOL, I don't know why you should feel that way. We do need to find out what's killing them though. I rather like frog legs and I'm not fond of the idea of being run over with bugs either. And everything that eats them will die before we do. So not only will we die but we'll be "bugged to death" in the process. :eek:


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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    I think there's a "survival of the fittest frog" thing going on here. We may end up with only a few hundred frogs surviving but these will be SUPER FROGS.

  13. #13
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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    I can see the headlines now.

    "The Frog that Ate Manhatten"


    LOL

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    I'm curious, does anyone remember the rash of mutated frogs they were finding all over? It was a few years ago, you know, siamese twins, two-headed tadpoles etc... what ever happened with that? It was all scary, scary for a time, then nothing, did they find a cure, or the source of the mutations or what?

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by jigglepete
    I'm curious, does anyone remember the rash of mutated frogs they were finding all over? It was a few years ago, you know, siamese twins, two-headed tadpoles etc... what ever happened with that? It was all scary, scary for a time, then nothing, did they find a cure, or the source of the mutations or what?
    It sure scared me, at the time. They actually found a cure--DDT. It turns out that frogs and tadpoles love the stuff and it actually straightens out and hardens their DNA so it won't happen again.

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    Re: Scientists work to save frogs from killer fungus

    Quote Originally Posted by jigglepete
    Wow, now I'm starting to feel bad about how I treated them as a youth :o
    you n' me BOTH....buddy!?firecrackers and 22's hehe!!....just askin...

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