By Debra Miller
This article from livescience.com is about a fungus from Europe that is killing salamanders. And this fungus might be coming to the U.S. We want to stop it from coming here any way we can. The reason we think it might come here is the international pet trade where Europe is giving us salamanders. So we are testing salamanders as they come in for the fungus. In case it does infect our salamanders we are also finding a way to reduce the spread of it. The place that is most at risk is The Southern Appalachian mountains because they are a global biodiversity hot spot for salamanders. The Appalachians have over 60 species of salamanders. The way the Bsal fungus kills the salamanders is by specifically attacking the outer covering of a salamander’s skin. Also this fungus can spread to frogs destroying their skin as well. The skin is one of the most important organs in an amphibian’s body. It is so important because some salamanders don’t have lungs, and so the skin is a major source for respiration for them. It also maintains the right amount of hydration so that their body systems, including their heart, can function properly.
This article is very worrying. I think that what we are doing to help stop the fungus is very important. Salamanders might not seem important to humans but they are. Other than them being really cute and fun pets salamanders also control pests by eating insects like mosquitoes so without them you would get more bug bites while outside and no one wants that. But more importantly their moist, permeable skin makes salamanders vulnerable to drought and toxic substances, so they are exceptional indicators of ecosystem health. So we can use salamanders to see how ecosystems are doing and if we need to help the ecosystem. So hopefully this fungus won’t get into the US and if it does hopefully it is stopped.