Climate change is causing UK frogs to be affected by a severe infectious disease caused by Ranavirus

An image to illustrate UK frogs, amond which infectious disease and ranavirus can spread.
© iStock/AlasdairJames

Climate change has increased the spread and severity of an infectious disease in UK frogs caused by Ranavirus.

The study is from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, UCL and Queen Mary University of London. It shows that climate change has impacted the spread of Ranavirus in UK frogs and could affect other wildlife in a similar manner. The study has published today, 10 May 2019, in Global Change Biology.

The impact of climate change on UK frogs and other wildlife

Dr Stephen Price, lead author from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology and UCL, explained: “Climate change isn’t something that’s just happening in faraway places – it’s something real and present that’s already had hard-to-predict impacts on wildlife in our own back gardens here in the UK.”

Price added: “A number of scientists have already alluded to the fact that climate change could increase the spread of disease, but this is one of the first studies that provides strong evidence of the impact of climate change on wildlife disease, and helps to explain how it may facilitate the spread of Ranavirus across the UK.”

Is tackling climate change the only long-term solution?

ZSL scientists suggest that frogs may be better able to cope better with infections by having areas to cool down in to reduce the level of sun exposure they receive and thus reduce the virus growth rate. Adding log piles, vegetation or nearby shady patches as well as keeping ponds deep would help UK frogs with this.

Professor Trenton Garner at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, concludes: “Many studies in amphibian disease cannot do much beyond saying ‘we have a problem’. This research offers a number of options for mitigation; however, this is only a short-term solution of course – if we don’t eventually slow and reverse human-driven climate change, we unfortunately can only expect things to get worse for our amphibians.”

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