Disease wiping out amphibians in Panama before they can be identified

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London, July 20 (ANI): A park in Panama has lost 40 percent of its amphibian species in the past decade, and some wiped out even before being discovered.

Biologists discovered 11 new species, only to find that five of them are already extinct in the area.

A fungal disease causes amphibians to develop skin several times thicker than normal, which affects their ability to breathe and the transfer of electrolytes.

Thirty of these species are now extinct in the area, including "five that were wiped out before we even knew they were there," Nature quoted Andrew Crawford, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia, as saying.

Even El Cope national park has lost over 30 species of amphibian to the disease and the fungus threatens other species too, say the researchers.

Anti-fungal solution is one alternative the biologists are looking at, but the problem is how to introduce healthy populations into the wild without causing re-infections.

Another conservation method being explored is the use of probiotics3, which defends frogs and salamanders from the disease.

In the meantime, herpetologists are attempting to preserve animals by removing them from their natural habitat.

The research is published today in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science USA1. (ANI)

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