Amphibians are victims of lethal skin-disease epidemics. In a first-of-its-kind, global-scale study, researchers from 31 universities and research centers collected skin bacteria from more than 2,300 healthy frogs and salamanders from 12 countries. This information helped the researchers describe microbes on a wide range of host animals to improve knowledge of the distribution of frog-skin bacteria, known to be important in maintaining amphibian health. Based on samples of 205 different species of amphibians, the team concluded that an animal's environment, especially the temperature, plays a big role in which bacteria live on its skin. The most striking discovery was that amphibian skin microbes are more diverse in areas with cold winters and variable temperatures. This was unexpected because most animals and plants are more diverse in the tropics.
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