A survey of Ireland’s native amphibians has not detected the presence of the fatal chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). The results of this study, undertaken by the Herpetological Society of Ireland, are published today in the Herpetological Journal. Along with climate change and habitat destruction, this fungus is a prominent factor in recent declines of amphibian populations worldwide.
Despite chytrid being present in the UK and Europe, no research had been previously carried out to determine its status in Ireland. With this purpose in mind, the Herpetological Society of Ireland, with a generous grant from the Heritage Council, set up the first Irish Amphibian Chytrid Survey, in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
With the help of volunteers from across the island samples were collected from Ireland’s three native amphibian species- the Common frog (Rana temporaria), the Smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris) and the Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita). Skin swabs were taken and screened for the fungal disease from a total of 195 adult amphibians from 22 locations across eight counties.
The samples were analysed at the Institute of Zoology, London. All samples tested negative for the fungus.
Senior science officer, Rob Gandola who led the research, says that while this is good news for Irish amphibians, a long-term island wide monitoring system should be established so that any future invasion by the chytrid fungus can be detected. “In my opinion, the best way to do this is through continued surveying and involvement with members of the public.”