Notophthalmus viridescens © Clay Bolt | claybolt.com

The IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) and the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) note with growing concern the recent reports on the impact of introduced chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) and virus (Ranavirus) on unexposed amphibian populations.

Amphibians are considered to be the most threatened vertebrate class in the world, with at least one in three species threatened with extinction. Amphibians have experienced declines and extinctions throughout the globe, with habitat loss and disease identified as key threat factors. These are concerning enough on their own, but even more so in combination with other threats, such as trade.

Unregulated and unmonitored global amphibian trade is considered a major mechanism for dispersal of invasive species, including non-native emerging infectious diseases (EID). There are currently no global safeguard standards to ensure that amphibians in the international trade are monitored and tested for amphibian diseases. This means that amphibian populations in unaffected areas are at a very high risk of being impacted by EIDs that may be transported by amphibian hosts in the pet trade.

The ASG and ASA urge all governments to prioritize this issue and to implement whatever actions are needed to stop the spread of these devastating diseases.

ASG and ASA are currently in the process of exploring suitable global actions to address this major threat to amphibians worldwide. For further information please write to asg@amphibians.org.