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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

First frogs and salamanders, next bats,,,,,,,,,,,and now snakes,,,,,,, all falling victim to fungus ailments( that our scientists are not able to put a halt to.............We keep claiming that we will be able to accomodate10 Billion of us human animals on our planet over the next 100 years via bio engineering, chemical pesticides, advanced chemical fertilizers and other "sci-fi-like" man made "miracle substances",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Without a doubt, the "witches brew" of toxins released into our air,water and soil as by-products of our alchemy is killing life as we know it(and the likely cause of the bat, snake and salamander fungus epidemics)...............Do we have the wisdom to put on the brakes, stop the release of this poisonous brew and restore our natural processes so as for all of us on this planet to "LIVE LONG AND PROSPER?"

Snake fungal disease parallels white-nose syndrome in bats



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A deadly fungal infection afflicting snakes
 is eerily similar to the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome
 in bats, researchers report.
Although Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (the snake fungus) and
Pseudogymnoascus destructans (the bat fungus) inhabit
 different ecological niches and thrive at different temperature
 and humidity ranges, the fungi share basic traits that allow
 them to persist across a range of habitats and infect multiple
species, the researchers report in the journal Fungal Ecology.
"The fungus killing these snakes is remarkably similar in its basic biology to the fungus that has killed millions of bats," said Illinois Natural History Survey mycologistAndrew Miller, an author on the study. "It occurs in the soil, seems to grow on a wide variety of substances, and it possesses many of the same enzymes that make the bat fungus so persistent." INHS is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.
The snake and bat pathogens both emerged in North America in the mid-2000s, and each is sweeping across the United States and into parts of Canada. Researchers and wildlife officials have struggled to keep up with the wave of infections and find ways to protect the animals.
White-nose syndrome afflicts bats that are hibernating in cool caves, depleting their energy stores and killing more than 90 percent of those infected. Snake fungal disease is active at higher temperatures.
O. ophiodiicola consumes keratin, a key ingredient in snake scales. It can cause scabs, nodules, abnormal molting, ulcers and other disfiguring changes to snake skin and other tissues. Mortality in infected snakes appears to be 100 percent.

note the gray mass at the nose of the snake suffering from this fungi

Both the bat and snake fungi can survive on most carbon and nitrogen sources found in soils, said Illinois doctoral student Daniel Raudabaugh, who analyzed both in Miller's lab. "Like the bat fungus, the snake fungus is tolerant of elevated sulfur compounds," Raudabaugh said. "It grows on dead fish. It grows on dead mushrooms - most complex carbon sources. It can utilize nitrate, but its growth is not nearly as robust (as the bat fungus) on nitrate."
"The snake fungus has the ability, just like the bat fungus, to live as a saprobe, consuming dead organic matter," Miller said. "It doesn't need the animal to live, but it's out there attacking the animal now. Why is it doing it? I don't know."
It may be that the snakes are newly susceptible to a pathogen that has always been there, said Illinois comparative biosciences professor and study co-author Matthew Allender, who was the first to report snake fungal disease in a free-ranging population of rattlesnakes in Illinois.
"We know that the fungus is out there, we know that it's killing snakes, but is it killing healthy snakes or is it killing snakes that are already weakened from some other cause?" Allender said. Habitat degradation, pollution, stress from human encroachment and severe weather all may worsen snake health, potentially making snakes more susceptible to disease, he said.
"Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola is an emerging infectious disease," said Frank Gleason, an honorary research fellow at the University of Sydney and a co-author on the study. "Because it can grow within such a wide range of environmental conditions and is highly virulent, it could be spread to new habitats by the release of infested pet snakes and by the international animal trade, infecting many more species of snakes worldwide."
Both the bat and snake fungi infect a variety of species. Seven species of North American bats have been diagnosed with white-nose syndrome. Other species have tested positive for the fungus, but have not been confirmed to have WNS. Snakes affected by snake fungal disease include northern water snakes, eastern racers, rat snakes, timber rattlesnakes, Eastern massasaugas, pygmy rattlesnakes and garter snakes.
"While attention to white-nose syndrome is gaining steam in scientific circles, researchers have been slower to recognize similar emerging diseases in reptiles and amphibians,"Allender said.
To address this and other gaps, the Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation this year formed a national disease reptile and amphibian task team, which Allender co-chairs.
"This is a collaborative effort among biologists, veterinarians and habitat managers to actually assess the risks and minimize the effects of disease," Allender said. "It started in large part because of efforts, like ours, to understand these emerging diseases. Because as you go out and you gather more and more information, you realize you're just scraping the surface."

Editor's notes:
To reach Matthew Allender, call 217-265-0320; email
To reach Andrew Miller, call 217-244-0439; email
To reach Daniel Raudabaugh, call 217-244-0493; email
To reach Frank Gleason, call 612-9971-2071; email
The paper, "The natural history, ecology, and epidemiology of Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola and its potential impact on free-ranging snake populations," is available from the U. of I. News Bureau.


stitch said...

The critical question: "Do we have the wisdom?" I think it's clear that we don't. When the "long range" impact planning done by our politicians only extends as far as the next quarterly earnings reports, it's hard to imagine we're going to get smart enough, fast enough to preserve anything that resembles the earth before we ate it.

Rick Meril said...


Unfortunately, you are spot on................Agriculture exponentially increased our capacity to multiply our species,,,,,,,,,,,,,,2500 years after we started growing things,,,,,,,,,we started making things via assembly line and pulling tons and tons of materials from the ground and the seas to do so...........And the dark side of the stock market and publically traded firms is make your quarter or die................Nonetheless, we fight the good fight and with the Pope coming out recognizing that all living things are interconnected and that we must stop fouling our nest, I will fight doubly hard to make things better...........Stay the course with me!