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Don’t Blame Climate Change For Frog Fungus Too!

Posted By G Living Staff Monkies On September 22, 2008 @ 12:21 am In G Living,Nature / Non Human Stories | No Comments

In a world where the blame game often boasts a larger player roster than the lastest Wii adventure, global warming can find itself an easy scapegoat for all disastrous things happening on the planet. Take for example a 2006 study that blamed climate change on a deadly outbreak of frog fungus in South and Central America. The results, published in the journal Nature, stated that the rise in the Earth’s temperature had contributed to the vast spreading of the chytrid fungus< (aka Chytridiomycota).

But a new study contradicts these findings, saying the fungus — which has caused mass amphibian extinction by thickening the outer layer of their skin (the one through which they breathe and drink), then roughening it and causing it to separate on a cellular level — actually “spreads in waves like other infectious diseases” such as Ebola or West Nile.


The reasoning behind this new theory? Simple. If climate change were responsible, says Karen Lips, a Southern Illinois University zoologist, the outbreak would be devastating many spots simultaneously.

According to National Geographic, Lips believes that ” the fungus is a native thing that naturally occurs in these areas, and that some environmental trigger causes it to break out” – not that it’s occurring at the same time on a global level. For example, two Central American sites only 50 kilometers apart but with similar geographics saw an outbreak on one but not on the other.

“If temperature change was causing this outbreak, then the temperature change 50 kilometers away at the same elevation should be about the same and cause the outbreak of disease there,” she says.

This knowledge doesn’t do much to help the poor frogs, but I guess it’s at least good on a human level to know that our planetary negligence isn’t to blame. Of course, this doesn’t take global warming off the hook for other things. Like, say, the Arctic meltdown…

(via National Geographic and the Foundation For Natural Parks & Wildlife)

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