An island haven for frogs

An island haven for frogs

New Guinea is one of the only places in the world where frogs are safe from the species-destroying chytrid fungus. An international team of scientists has published a new paper that shows how to keep it that way, but they need help to carry out their plan.

Sphenophryne cornuta with babies

The island of New Guinea can be kept as a rare refuge from the chytrid fungus that is wiping out frog species around the world.

New Guinea is one of the only places in the world where frogs are safe from the species-destroying chytrid fungus. An international team of scientists has published a new paper that shows how to keep it that way, but they need help to carry out their plan.
The chytrid fungus has wiped out more than 90 frog species around the world, and it’s driving hundreds more towards extinction. New Guinea – the world’s largest tropical island, and home to 6% of all known frog species – is one of the last remaining refuges from the deadly infection.

A team of scientists led by researchers from Macquarie University and the University of New England in Australia think they know how to keep the island’s frogs safe, but they need support to establish a long-term program of monitoring and conservation.
Writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the group of 30 experts from Australia, the USA, China, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea calls for urgent action.

“You don’t often spot a conservation disaster before it happens and get the chance to stop it,” says Deborah Bower of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, who is the first author of the article. “We know what needs to be done.”
The infectious chytrid fungus has been described as the most destructive pathogen known to science. It has destroyed more than 90 species of frog entirely and caused declines in almost 500 more.

The international pet trade helped the chytrid fungus spread rapidly from its origins in East Asia over recent decades, and it now infects frogs on every continent.  It is one of the key reasons why 40% of the world’s frog species now face the threat of extinction.
New Guinea’s tropical climate and hundreds of native frog species make it an ideal environment for chytrid. But field tests have so far found no traces of the killer fungus.

Find out more.

Photo of Sphenophryne cornuta with babies by Stephen J Richards

Published 4 June 2019

Back to the top of this page