Climate change blamed for rise of life-draining horrors*
* Probably, anyway
Climate change could help parasites get nastier and nastier preceding a terrifying global epidemic, possibly.
A study on frogs - yes, frogs - showed that they were more vulnerable to deadly fungus if the temperature changed unpredictably, which the researchers said could have a big impact on biodiversity and humans.
"Given that nonlinear and acclimation responses to climate are probably pervasive, climatic variability and predictability might represent underappreciated links between climate change, disease and biodiversity losses," the study, published in Nature Climate Change, stated.
Amphibians are being hit by a disease called chytridiomycosis caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. That fungus is affected by both changes in temperature and changes in average rainfall, as the research team discovered when they inflicted it on frogs trapped in incubators at various temperatures.
"Laboratory experiments conducted in 80 independent incubators, and field data on disease-associated frog declines in Latin America, support the framework and provide evidence that unpredictable temperature fluctuations, on both monthly and diurnal timescales, decrease frog resistance to the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis," the study noted.
The researchers reckon that they could get similar responses from other host-parasite systems. Animals are already at risk from climate change because their habitats could become too hot or too cold for them, but now they'll have to worry about disease changes as well, the study said.
"Global climate change is shifting the distribution of infectious diseases of humans and wildlife with potential adverse consequences for disease control," it warned. ®