A deadly salamander fungus

See the full article in the upcoming December issue of SAVE THE FROGS! Magazine, order here:

salamander-swab-Bsal-Tariq- Stark

Photo by Peter de Koning


Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, is a recently discovered new member of the chytrid family of deadly pathogenic fungi affecting amphibians. True to the name, B. salamandrivorans affects salamanders rather than frogs, like the more well-known Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, chytrid fungus. This lethal fungus is thought to have originated from Southeast Asia but is now found in Asia, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, spread by the pet trade. According to a Science paper published in 2015 by Yap et al., the largest U.S. ports for salamander import, and therefore the most vulnerable to Bsal introduction, are Los Angeles, CA; Tampa, FL; New York, NY; Atlanta, GA; and San Francisco, CA. The U.S. is the world’s salamander hotspot, with 50% of the world’s salamander species.


AmphibiaWeb recommends the following things you can do to protect salamanders:

  1. Avoid buying Asian salamanders until better precautions are in place.
  2. Never release pet salamanders into the wild, including those that you collected yourself and kept in captivity for at least 30 days.
  3. Treat waste water from tanks with bleach before pouring down the drain.
  4. Write your congress person to ask them to support the trade ban.


To find out more, read the most influential scientific articles published to date below:

References compiled by Tariq Stark, writer of the December 2015 SAVE THE FROGS! Magazine article on Bsal and blogger at Amphibian Survival Alliance’s blog

Bd-maps. (2015). Global Bd-Mapping Project. [online] Available at: <https://www.bd-maps.net/surveillance/> [Accessed 15 September 2015].

Berger, L., Speare, R., Daszak, P., Green, D. E., Cunningham, A. A., Goggin, C. L., Slocombe, R., Ragan, M. A., Hyatt, A. D., McDonald, K. R., Hines, H. B., Lips, K.R., Marantelli, G. & Parkes, H. (1998). Chytridiomycosis causes amphibian mortality associated with population declines in the rain forests of Australia and Central America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 95(15), 9031-9036.

Cunningham, A. A., Beckmann, K., Perkins, M., Fitspatrick, L., Cromie, R., Redbond, J., O’Brien, M. F., Ghosh, P., Shelton, J., Fisher, M., C. (2015). Emerging diseases in UK amphibians. Veterinary Record, 176, 468.

Duffus, A. L., & Cunningham, A. A. (2010). Major disease threats to European amphibians. The Herpetological Journal, 20(3), 117-127.

Martel, A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Blooi, M., Bert, W., Ducatelle, R., Fisher, M. C., Woeltjes, A., Bosman, W., Chiers, K., Bossuyt, F. & Pasmans, F. (2013). Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov. causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(38), 15325-15329.

Martel, A., Blooi, M., Adriaensen, C., Van Rooij, P., Beukema, W., Fisher, M. C., Farrer, R. A., Schmidt, B. R., Tobler, U., Goka, K., Lips, K.R., Muletz, C., Zamudio, K. R., Bosch, J. Lötters, S., Wombwell, E., Garner, T. W. J., Cunningham, A. A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Salvidio, S., Ducatelle, R., Nishikawa, K., Nguyen, T. T., Kolby, J. E., Van Bocxlaer, I., Bossuyt, F. & Pasmans, F. (2014). Recent introduction of a chytrid fungus endangers Western Palearctic salamanders. Science, 346(6209), 630-631.

Sabino-Pinto, J.S., Bletz, M., Hendrix, R., Bina Perl, R. G., Martel, A., Pasmans, F., Lötters, S., Mutschmann, F., Schmeller, D.S., Schmidt, B. R., Veith, M., Wagner, N., Vences, M., Steinfartz, S. (2015). First detection of the emerging fungal pathogen in Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in Germany. Amphibia-Reptilia.

Spitzen – van der Sluijs, A., Spikmans, F., Bosman, W., de Zeeuw, M., Goverse, E., Kik, M., Pasmans, F., Martel., A. (2013): Rapid enigmatic decline drives the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) to the edge of extinction in the Netherlands. Amphibia-Reptilia  34, 233-239.

Stuart, S. N., Chanson, J. S., Cox, N. A., Young, B. E., Rodrigues, A. S., Fischman, D. L., & Waller, R. W. (2004). Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide. Science, 306(5702), 1783-1786.

Vredenburg, V. T., Knapp, R. A., Tunstall, T. S., & Briggs, C. J. (2010). Dynamics of an emerging disease drive large-scale amphibian population extinctions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(21), 9689-9694.

Yap, T. A., Koo, M. S., Ambrose, R. F., Wake, D. B., & Vredenburg, V. T. (2015). Averting a North American biodiversity crisis. Science, 349(6247), 481-482.