A team of British researchers have identified a new tadpole disease that is extremely aggressive and that is significantly affecting their survival rate, thus threatening worldwide frog populations.
This highly infectious disease seems to be caused by a minute parasite, a “protist”, meaning a unicellular organism with a nucleus storing its DNA. The parasite has been identified in the livers of tadpoles from all over the world.
The tadpole is the juvenile stage of the frog and therefore, its successful development is a key element that assures that the adult thrives. Since this mysterious parasite affects the tadpoles, then it greatly affects the outcome of the frog population.
The researchers from the University of Exeter have collected tadpole samples from six different countries, that are located on three different continents, so as to get an extensive view of the general situation.
The fact that the parasite is present in both tropical and temperate climates makes it incredibly dangerous, precisely because it poses a great threat to frogs everywhere.
At the moment, the researchers have not been able to fully identify the parasite, but their data has revealed that this particular species could be linked to an oyster parasite. This is a particularly important detail, because it might actually reveal certain details about the life cycle of the tadpole parasite and even the means of contamination.
Oysters play a major role in filtering the waters they inhabit, and this might be be the link between the oysters and their parasite and the tadpole and their very own tailored version of the parasite.
“Global frog populations are suffering serious declines and infectious disease has been shown to be a significant factor. ” said Exeter researcher Thomas Richards.
The alarming decline of frog populations could be linked to a sixth mass extinction, that would greatly affect all of our lives. While small species such as frogs don’t appear to be important to our lives, the reality is that we would feel their absence quite strongly. Probably the first thing that we would observe would be a rise in insect populations, since frogs are important predators of a wide range of insect species.
Whether small or large in size, every creature is included in nature’s vast design and eliminating one of them is bound to make some drastic changes to this particular design. This is precisely why it is crucial that we do everything in our power to preserve the species that inhabit our planet, because the disappearance of each and every one of them will bring us closer and closer to a more hostile altered version of our world.
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