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BOB HIRSHON (host):
Heading off an amphibious assault. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Many Asian salamanders are strikingly beautiful and popular as pets. But in the journal Science, San Francisco State University ecologist Vance Vredenburg writes that the amphibians carry a fungus that’s escaped into Europe, where it’s wiping out native salamanders.
VANCE VREDENBURG (San Francisco State University):
And luckily it hasn’t been discovered yet in North America, which happens to be the hotspot for biodiversity for salamanders: about 48% of the world’s salamanders live in North America.
If the fungus escapes here, it could be catastrophic. So Vredenburg and other scientists are calling for a complete halt to the sale of Asian salamanders in North America until researchers learn how to control the fungus. As difficult as the ban would be for pet stores and exotic pet collectors, he says it’s the only way to protect salamanders in the wild. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.