[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][text_output]A new salamander disease is spreading around the world and we need your help to find out where it’s going! Please join our citizen science project to save the salamanders: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/saving-salamanders-with-citizen-science
If you find a dead or sick salamander in the wild, please take pictures and upload them to this iNaturalist project as soon as possible! Here are some important project details:
- Species identification is NOT necessary. If you cannot identify the type of salamander because they are too long dead, or simply because you don’t know salamanders, that’s ok! All dead salamander photos are important records.
- If your salamander is not dead, but looks like it has weird skin sores or marks, we also want you to take a photo and report these.
- Your photos don’t have to be pretty and you don’t need a fancy camera! Feel free to use the camera on your phone. A blurry picture is always better than no picture.
- Record this simple information along with your photo:
- Number of dead salamanders you saw (i.e. if you find a pond with 20 dead salamanders, you might only take a picture of a few, but can report 20)
- Species (your best guess is great, but it’s ok if you have no idea–just call it a salamander)
- Suspected cause of death (i.e. was it hit by a car, stepped on, partially eaten by an animal? etc.). Please always make a comment in the description box about this observation. If you tell us there was no obvious reason why it was dead, this is very helpful because we can rule out non-disease factors like roadkill, predation, etc.
The emerging infectious disease we are specifically worried about is caused by a newly discovered species of chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or “Bsal”). The faster we can detect its arrival in a new region, the greater our chances to protect the salamanders from disease, decline, and extinction.
It appears that Bsal originated in Asia long ago, and recently started to spread around the world by the international trade in salamanders. It recently invaded Europe, and is now causing alarming declines in Fire salamander populations. According to recent surveys, it has not yet arrived in the USA–the global hotspot of salamander diversity—but an outbreak may happen at any moment. Outside Asia, Bsal has so far only been detected in Europe (the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK), and so we are seeking records of dead salamanders found ANYWHERE.
With your help, we might be able to detect salamander disease outbreaks much faster than with traditional field surveys alone. So next time you go for a short walk in the park or a long hike in the wilderness, keep your eyes peeled and camera (phone) ready for salamanders! Whether you see just one dead salamander or a bunch, everything you see is important. So please join this project and help us save the salamanders!
Please note: If you suspect you might have visited an area experiencing a disease outbreak, you should sterilize your boots with a 10% bleach solution when you get home to make sure you do not accidentally spread disease to the next place you go for a hike.
Please contact us at DeadSalamanders@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.
By Jonathan Kolby[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][text_output]Above: Bolitoglossa conanti[/text_output]
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