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Debra Miller, a professor and director of the Center for Wildlife Health in the UT Institute of Agriculture, and Matt Gray, associate director of the UTIA Center for Wildlife Health, discussed the newly discovered Bsal fungus and its potential spread to North America for The Conversation.

Debra Miller

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, is only the second chytrid fungus to be discovered. The first and best known, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, has been associated with the decline of more than 500 amphibian species globally and more than 100 species extinctions. Bsal was discovered in 2010, and since then, salamander populations all over Europe have seen precipitous declines.

Matt Gray

Bsal fungus coats the outer covering of a salamander’s skin. The skin stops functioning, and the animal shuts down and dies.

Researchers are especially concerned about the possibility of Bsal spreading to North America— particularly to Appalachia, a biodiversity hot spot for salamanders. (Tennessee, for example, has around 60 species, more than the entire continent of Europe.) Bsal has not yet been found anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, but the pet trade is the most likely route for introduction. Read the full article on The Conversation.

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