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Museum Work Could Fight Amphibian Disease

NEW HAVEN, Conn., (UPI) — Preserved frogs in museums around the world hold clues to a deadly pathogen currently decimating global amphibian populations, a U.S. researcher says.

Katy Richards-Hrdlicka at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies examined 164 preserved amphibians for the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, an infectious pathogen driving many species to extinction.

Richards-Hrdlicka swabbed the skin of 10 species of amphibians dating back to 1963 and preserved at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History for signs of the pathogen found on every continent inhabited by amphibians and in more than 200 species.

“I have long proposed that the millions of amphibians maintained in natural-history collections around the world are just waiting to be sampled,” she said in a Yale release Wednesday.

Since Bd’s identification in the late 1990s, there has been an effort to document amphibian populations and species infected with it, and the new work will allow researchers to look to the past for additional insight into the pathogen’s impact.

“This advancement holds promise to uncover Bd’s global or regional date and place of arrival, and it could also help determine if some of the recent extinctions or disappearances could be tied to Bd,” Richards-Hrdlicka said.

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