You learn something every day. I didn’t know that the Great Smoky Mountains in the U.S. are regarded by many to be the salamander capital of the world. No wonder the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Zoo, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources agency are concerned, to say the least, about the spread of chytrid and pressures on amphibian species in the state. Full story from Chattanooga Times Free Press is here. Key excerpts:

The fungus has been documented in Tennessee salamanders, but not yet in frogs, though surveyors have found the fungus in frogs in Georgia within the last year…

Pandy English, a wildlife diversity coordinator for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, said frogs and salamanders are the new “canaries in the coal mine.” “They are bioindicators,” she said. “If they are dying off then there could be toxins or other things going on that we need to know about.” 

Tennessee’s 56 species of salamanders, a close cousin to the frog, “are in a way really more of a concern than the frogs because we have many species that are found nowhere else in the world,” said herpetologist Lisa Powers, owner and operator of Frog Haven Farm near Nashville.

Contrary to the report, though, the source of chytrid fungus really isn’t a mystery. It’s indigenous to southern Africa and was accidentally exported around the world in the mid 1900s. Here’s previous post on that.