A University of Alberta scientist is part of a research team offering the first evidence that global warming is behind an infectious disease epidemic wiping out entire frog populations and forcing many species to extinction. The work is published in the journal "Nature."
"When we talk about climate change, there is so much focus on industrialized countries, but people are ignoring other ecosystems that may be extremely sensitive to climate change, such as dry and cloud forest environments," says Dr. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, from the U of As Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and one of the papers co-authors. "Its impact goes beyond what we can observe here in Canada and the north, and the situation is obviously very grave."
Sanchez-Azofeifa is part of an international research team led by Dr. Alan Pounds from Costa Ricas Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and Tropical Science Centre. Accounting for such things as deforestation, the scientists investigated how the Monteverde harlequin frog vanished along with the golden toad 17 years ago from the mountains of Costa Rica. About 67 per cent of the 110 species of the particular frog--which only existed in the American tropics--have met the same fate due, say the researchers, to a pathogenic fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.
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