Identification of Chytrid Fungus in Native Toads and Frogs, administered by Dr. Kirk Suedmeyer, Director of Animal Health , to determine the incidence of chytrid fungus on Zoo grounds.
This one year study involves a team of staff and volunteers swabbing local amphibians for chytrid fungus. Geo tracking, species and gender determination and individual photo documentation will be performed on all toads and frogs caught. All animals tested will be released unharmed where they were found. Swabs obtained will be analyzed to determine the incidence and prevalence of this fungal organism on Zoo grounds.
In 2013 Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, discovered about a third of the ponds in their study are infected with chytrid, the notorious skin fungus that has sickened and killed amphibians in other parts of the world. In amphibians, chytrid infects and damages the skin, which amphibians use to breathe and absorb water. Once the fungus takes hold, it causes a disease called chytridiomycosis, which is usually fatal.
Chytrid is thought to infect virtually all amphibians and has proven to cause severe population declines and extinctions. This study will determine the commonness on grounds. Strict standards are in place to protect the Zoo’s exhibit amphibians, but knowledge of this organism will help formulate potential treatment options and re-evaluation of potential risks to the animals.