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Smithsonian scientists find the frog legs trade may facilitate spread of pathogens
Date:11/19/2009

ual animals translating to approximately 100 to 400 million animals per year.

The scientists found no recorded cases of the extinction of a frog species caused by collection for food. However, given the growing importance of aquaculture to supply frog legs to global markets, the team stresses that the risk of disease spread through poorly regulated amphibian trade is probably an even greater risk to amphibian biodiversity than the direct population effects of overharvesting.

In countries such as Indonesia, which exports about 45 percent of all frog legs, the majority of animals are thought to be wild-caught and there is little to no effort to monitor this food source for disease pathogens. "Any trade in live frogs or fresh, un-skinned frog legs presents a substantial risk of the spread of amphibian chytrid," said Gratwicke. "The implementation and enforcement of some key amphibian trade policies could be a cost-effective conservation tool to mitigate disease risks associated with the trade."

The exact origin of amphibian chytrid is unknown, but one theory is that it originated in Southern Africa and was distributed worldwide in the 1950s through the trade of the African clawed frog for pregnancy-testing and other amphibian trade. Amphibian chytrid has been detected in many parts of the United States, but some species are apparently resistant to the fungus, and it is not always associated with amphibian declines. The most dramatic declines have been observed in mountainous parts of Central and South America and Australia where it is responsible for the disappearance and probable extinction of many species.


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Contact: John Gibbons
gibbonsjp@si.edu
202-633-5187
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

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Smithsonian scientists find the frog legs trade may facilitate spread of pathogens
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