Interesting development in Georgia where salamanders are beating the odds and appear immune to amphibian chytrid fungus. A story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes how the Atlanta Botanical Garden is studying the situation and trying to unlock the mystery that could be used to save other species. You really should read the whole story, but here are excerpts:
The green folds of Georgia’s mountains may hold a secret that scientists around the world want to know:
Why do salamanders in its creeks and bogs appear impervious to a fungus that is killing amphibians all over the world?
The chytrid fungus, identified about 70 years ago in Africa, has swept through some amphibian species in Central and South America like a fire through straw. The fungus impedes the ability of amphibians’ skin to absorb water and oxygen. It has left some species’ hold on life so tenuous that the botanical garden sends scientists overseas to retrieve specimens before they become extinct in the wild.
“If we can figure out why the species that aren’t dying are surviving, maybe we can apply that knowledge to the species that are dying out,” said biologist Kevin Zippel, who heads the nonprofit Amphibian Ark association.
What Hill is doing in North Georgia, he said, “is among the most important research going on right now.”