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Calls to ban trade in amphibians from Asia
International researchers said the study provides strong evidence for banning the trade in amphibians from Asia.
Movement of amphibians ‘directly contributed’ to chytrid spread

A deadly fungus that is responsible for decimating the world’s amphibian populations is now thought to have originated in East Asia.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), or chytrid fungus, has long been known as a cause of declines and extinctions in species of frog, toad, newt and other amphibians across several continents. However, its place of origin has remained unclear.

New research published in Science suggests that the human movement of amphibians - for example through the pet trade - has directly contributed to the spread of the pathogen around the world.

International researchers said the study provides strong evidence for banning the trade in amphibians from Asia, owing to the high risk of exporting previously unknown strains of chytrid out of the region.

The research team studied 234 samples of the pathogen from around the world. They identified four main genetic lineages, three of which are distributed globally. The fourth, however, was only found in Korea, on frogs native to the region.

Further analysis revealed that these Korean strains were native to the region, and most closely resemble the ancestor of all modern Bd.

In addition, the findings suggest that the range of the disease expanded greatly between 50 and 120 years ago, which coincides with the rapid global expansion of intercontinental trade.

The study also highlighted another amphibian pathogen, B salamandrivorans (Bsal), which emerged from Asia and is affecting salamanders in Europe. As with Bd, the spread of Bsal is linked with the global trade in pet amphibians from Asia.

Professor Matthew Fisher from Imperial College London, which led the research, said: “Our research not only points to East Asia as ground zero for this deadly fungal pathogen, but suggests we have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg of chytrid diversity in Asia.

“Therefore, until the ongoing trade in infected amphibians is halted, we will continue to put our irreplaceable global amphibian biodiversity recklessly at risk.”

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.