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Inviato da Wes von Papinešu on Gennaio 08, 2000 at 09:02:07:
CSIRO AUSTRALIA (Clayton South, Victoria) 05 January 00 Boost in battle to Save Dwindling Frogs
CSIRO researchers battling to save Australia's dwindling frog populations have won a share of a worldwide US environment grant.
America's leading science organisation, the National Science Foundation, has donated approximately US$3 million for research into the decline of frogs around the world.
"Australia's frog populations, along with those in other countries, have been disappearing over the last twenty years," says CSIRO scientist Dr Alex Hyatt.
"The loss of frogs is very serious as they play an important role in ecosystems. We regard this as being one of the most significant global biodiversity problems facing us today."
An Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology Award was presented to Arizona State University, who are then in turn funding Australian, American and Canadian research projects. This type of grant was one of just seven awarded by the National Science Foundation.
This international research effort will provide information on why amphibian populations are declining worldwide, some to the point of extinction.
Over the last few years, Dr Hyatt and his team at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) have led the world in identifying causes of disease and death in amphibian, reptile and fish populations. His team is part of an international collaboration looking for ways to protect these valuable species.
Dr Hyatt will work with Dr Lee Berger of CSIRO Animal Health and Dr Rick Speare of James Cook University on the project.
The researchers will use their portion of the funds (A$400,000) to research the diseases that may affect Australia's amphibians. This will supplement funding already provided for frog research by Environment Australia through the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust.
Dr Hyatt says we need to know more about the diseases that have the potential to devastate our amphibian populations, so that we can find ways to stop this from happening.
"This is a small attempt to understand the diversity of infectious agents within the environment and how the continued activity of humans can affect the distribution and impact of these agents."
"Australian scientists have already identified the chytrid fungus, a pathogen that appears to be a major cause of frog population declines in Australia and overseas," Dr Hyatt says.
The areas where this fungus has been found include areas that are 'pristine'. Frog population crashes have been observed in relatively untouched areas of tropical Queensland rainforest. Similar sudden declines have occurred in protected mountainous rainforest areas in Central and South America.
Dr Hyatt's team is studying the chytrid fungus and looking for a treatment for it, in collaboration with other Australian researchers.
The US funds will be used for this research as well as other research into iridoviruses, a group of viruses that have been shown to kill frogs overseas.
More information: Dr Alex Hyatt or Judith Maunders 03 5227 5426
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