Like we told you on another occasion, during this year we have been taking samples from Betic midwife toad populations (Alytes dickhilleni) from the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park in order to check on the state of chytridiomycosis in the area. This protected space is the second largest in all of Europe, and concentrates 90% of the world population of this amphibian species endemic to the southeast peninsula. Therefore, any conservation problem in this marvelous natural space would have grave repercussions for the survival of the species.
Unfortunately, and like we feared, the situation has worsened in the last few years and actually, 20% of the analyzed populations from the natural park are infected with pathogenic fungi. As if this were not enough, the dead specimens that we received from the Andalusian Ministry of Environment from Granada also have tested positive for pathogenic fungi.
Therefore, it seems that the illness is expanding throughout all of the area of distribution of the species, and if we do not do something soon, it will turn into a widespread problem that threatens extinction of the Betic midwife toad.
Luckily, there is also good news. All of the sites where we have detected the infections are environments that, following our experience of mitigation in other areas of Spain, are able to be disinfected. In addition, the Andalusian Ministry of Environment, that has for years been making significant efforts towards the conservation of amphibians, has already gotten to work, and already we are planning to make mitigation actions in Jaén and Granada.
Achieving the containment of the infection in an area so extensive would be a world leader for the conservation of biodiversity, and would encourage other governments to get down working against a global problem that threatens hundreds of species worldwide.