Amphibians: Play recordings of breeding calls to simulate breeding season in the wild

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One replicated study in Australia found that frogs only bred when recorded mating calls were played, as well as manipulating the sex ratio after frogs were moved into an indoor enclosure which allowed temporary flooding and had various types of organic substrates.
  • One replicated, before-and-after study in Australia found that clutch size of frogs increased when playing recorded mating calls, along with the sexes being separated in the non-breeding periods, providing female mate choice, and allowing females to increase in weight before breeding.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, before-and-after study in 1994–1996 of roseate frogs Geocrinia rosea at Melbourne Zoo, Australia found that fertile eggs were only laid after recorded mating calls were played, sex ratios were manipulated, females carrying eggs were introduced to males, and frogs had been moved to an indoor enclosure which allowed temporary flooding and had a mix of organic substrates. The only fertile spawning occurred in spring 1996, which contained 25 eggs, but they were destroyed by fungus. From 1994-1995 , two male and three sub-adult frogs were housed in two outdoor tanks (120 x 60 x 60 cm) with a sub-surface water depth 50-100 mm. Males called when they were in outdoor enclosures, but fertile eggs were not produced until animals were moved to indoor tanks. From 1996, 6–7 frogs were housed in each of the five indoor enclosures.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A before-and-after study in 2006–2012 in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia found that husbandry interventions such as providing playing recorded mating calls, separating sexes during the non-breeding period, along allowing females to gain significant weight before the breeding period, and providing mate choice for females increased clutch size and decreased egg mortality in captive southern corroboree frogs Pseudophryne corroboree, although no statistical tests were carried out. At Melbourne Zoo from 2006–2009 no recorded mating calls were played, (average clutch size: 17; egg mortality: 91%). A recorded tape of mating calls was installed and played in 2010 (average clutch size: 20; egg mortality: 78%), 2011 (average clutch size: 40; egg mortality: 70%) and in 2012 (average clutch size: 46; egg mortality: 27%). At Taronga Zoo a recorded tape of mating calls was installed and played in 2010 (average clutch size: 80; egg mortality: 72%). In 2011, recorded mating calls were not used (average clutch size: 70; egg mortality: 25.5%). In 2012, recorded mating calls were played (average clutch size: 54; egg mortality: 28%). The tape was played for 15 minutes of each hour from 1800 to 2200 hours and was audible to the frogs in all tanks.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Jonas, C.S., Timbrell, L.L., Young, F., Petrovan, S.O., Bowkett, A.E. & Smith, R.K. (2020) Management of Captive Animals. Pages 527-553 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Management of Captive Animals

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Management of Captive Animals
Management of Captive Animals

Management of Captive Animals - Published 2018

Captive Animal Synopsis

What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust