Frog decline: “We can’t automatically point our finger at climate change…”

Froggie went a courtin'

Froggie went a courtin’

Pointing the finger at climate change is the Pavlovian reaction of many scientists and journalists.

For as we all know, virtually anything that happens on planet Earth in the 21st century is a result of man-made climate change—more snow, less snow, more rain, less rain, higher temperatures, lower temperatures, more cyclones, fewer cyclones, more frogs, fewer frogs—you name it, some scientist somewhere will have said it’s “consistent with AGW”.

Obviously, climate change has therefore become the mother of all get-out clauses, since once AGW is implicated, why bother looking for any alternative explanation?

So it’s good to note that some proper science is still revealing a different narrative:

A deadly fungus, and not climate change as is widely believed, is the primary culprit behind the rapid decline of frog populations in the Andes mountains, according to a new study published today in the journal Conservation Biology.

Frogs living at higher elevations can tolerate increasing temperatures, researchers found, but their habitats fall within the optimal temperature range for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd, a harmful pathogen they have only encountered relatively recently. The disease caused by Bd, chytridiomycosis, has led to the recent decline or extinction of 200 frog species worldwide.

The results have implications both for researchers trying to understand the rapid decline in frog populations across the globe and for conservationists looking to save the animals, said Vance Vredenburg, associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University and co-author of the study.

“Our research shows that we can’t just automatically point our finger at climate change,” he said. “We need to look carefully at what is causing these outbreaks.” (source)

Climate change is still a factor though, the research claims, but at least some scientists remain open-minded about the dominant cause.


  1. Lew Skannen says:

    I sure that the fungus was not always deadly. I believe it used to hold down a fulltime job, pay its taxes and play a valuable part in the local vibrant multicultural community … until climate change turned it into a dangerous misogynistic toxic fungus…

  2. “until climate change turned it into a dangerous misogynistic toxic fungus…’

    ohh.. for a minute there I thought you were describing the Labor/Greens political party……

    or were you ?

  3. But we’ve known of this fungus for a while –
    Skin fungus causes frog death
    James Cook University
    Sunday, 25 October 2009
    The fungal disease is causing catastrophic declines in frog populations around the world.
    The mystery of how the killer frog disease chytridiomycosis destroys its victims is a step closer to being solved following the work of a group of scientists from James Cook University, the University of Sydney and the University of New Mexico

    an indirect effect of the disease‎
    by J Bosch – ‎2007 – ‎Cited by 23 – ‎Related articles
    zoosporic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, is a recently described species that … The pattern of amphibian declines (Daszak et al., 1999), and genetic …

    Interspecific Variation in Susceptibility of Frog Tadpoles to the …‎
    by AR BLAUSTEIN – ‎2005 – ‎Cited by 127 – ‎Related articles
    One particular fungus, the chytridiomycete Batra- chochytrium dendrobatidis may have caused amphibian population declines in several regions. This pathogen.

    Library: Tropical Frog Disappearance…/studio…/frogs/…/store10.htm‎
    Since 1987 twenty species of frogs and toads have disappeared from the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica. … contaminants” may have resulted in severe population declines. … Was the fungus introduced on the boot of an eager ecotourist?

    Perhaps the main climate change connection is ecotourism in nicer weather.

  4. Somebody better tell the guys at the carbon neutral Save The Frogs website. They’re still after donations …
    “Climate change also affects host-parasite relationships. The deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is expanding its elevational range in the high Andes of Peru as the glaciers melt and new lakes are formed. The fungus was recently found infecting Telmatobius frogs as high as 5348m elevation.”

  5. Rathnakumar says:

    Frogs aren’t cute, probably that’s why they don’t want to point finger at climate change.

    • Frogs in decline??? Not round here in the NSW Northern Rivers area they’re not. Big green ones. I have to be careful stepping around my veranda at night so I don’t step on any.
      At impending rain they all set up loud choruses of croaking in downpipes and roof guttering. I even caught a baby green frog hopping along my hallway carpet a few months ago and a few days ago a fair-sized one flushed from under the rim of my toilet.
      They appear to be happily living together with the cane toads as well.

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