In a regional study led by biologist Vance Vredenburg, the Southeast was listed as vulnerable to a fungal infection that is deadly to most salamander species.
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, is an aquatic fungus that causes lethal skin infections on salamanders. It is thought to be related to a similar infection that is devastating amphibian populations worldwide.
Should Bsal reach the United States, the researchers say, a nationwide die-out is expected. The southern Appalachians would be especially vulnerable as their cool, wet environments host more salamander species than anywhere else in the world.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering a request by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to enact an emergency ban on pet salamander imports, which the researchers identified as a potential avenue of transmission to the United States.
— Chris Robey