As central components of food webs worldwide, amphibians provide vital ecosystem services. The continental United States alone has 230 amphibian species and is the world hotspot for salamander species. However, this amphibian biodiversity is threatened by Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), a fungal pathogen native to Asia that spread to Europe and is killing fire salamanders in the wild. Laboratory testing has shown several North American species are also vulnerable to Bsal infection.
The spread of Bsal is a chief concern, and at this time, it is highly probable Bsal will appear in North America. In 2015, a diverse coalition of scientist and managers formed the Bsal task force to identify key Bsal research and decision-support needs, and develop multi-pronged communication and management strategies to forestall and rapidly detect the pathogen if it comes to North America. Deanna Olson, a research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, served as the Bsal Task Force’s first-year co-chair.
The task force developed the Bsal Strategic Plan, a science-management framework that researchers and managers can use to identify research needs, share research findings prior to publication, and develop policy. The task force also produced a rapid response template that local and federal agencies can customize and deploy in the event that Bsal is detected.
Watts, Andrea; Olson, Dede; Harris, Reid; Mandica, Mark. 2019. The deadly amphibian bsal disease: How science-management partnerships are forestalling amphibian biodiversity losses. Science Findings 214. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.