Frogs exposed to the commonly used herbicide atrazine early in life are particularly susceptible to a skin fungus linked to vanishing amphibians around the world, according to a new University of South Florida study.

Amphibians might need to be exposed to atrazine only briefly as larvae to cause persistent increases in their risk of chytrid fungus mortality, according to the study published in the new edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is a chytrid fungus that was first identified in 1998 and is thought to have originated in Japan. It causes a thickening of the skin, which impairs gas exchange and the animal’s ability to absorb water, triggering rapid mass die-offs of frog populations.

“Our findings suggest that reducing early-life exposure of amphibians to atrazine could reduce lasting increases in the risk of mortality from a disease associated with worldwide amphibian declines,” Jason Rohr, co-author of the study, said.

The findings are consistent with earlier studies.