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Conservation Evidence Journal

Publishing evidence to improve practice


The Conservation Evidence Journal shares the global experience of those on the front line of conservation practice about the effectiveness of conservation actions. All papers include monitoring of the effects of the intervention and are written by, or in partnership with, those who did the conservation work. We encourage articles from anywhere around the world on all aspects of species and habitat management such as habitat creation, habitat restoration, translocations, reintroductions, invasive species control, changing attitudes and education. 

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Amphibian management

This virtual collection contains 18 papers on amphibian conservation management.

Re-establishment of an extinct local population of the Valcheta Frog, Pleurodema somuncurense, in a restored habitat in Patagonia

Martínez Aguirre T., Calvo R., Velasco M. A., Arellano M. L., Zarina O. & Kacoliris F.P. (2019), 16, 48-50


In March 2017 and March 2018, we reintroduced 196 and 50 individuals Valcheta frogs Pleurodema somuncurense, respectively (tadpoles and juveniles). The individuals were translocated from an ex situ colony to a restored habitat at the hot springs of the Valcheta stream (Rio Negro, Argentina). The aim was to re-establish a local population of this species that had gone extinct at this site. After the individuals were released, we monitored them using night visual encounters to register the number of individuals and other relevant records that suggested acclimatization (feeding, escaping and reproduction). In addition, we performed a Capture-Mark-Recapture study to estimate the density of the reintroduced population using POPAN models. By September 2018, the estimated density was 62 ± 27 SD in a stream area of 50 m2. This does not differ from density estimates of wild populations of the Valcheta Frog. Additionally, reproduction of reintroduced frogs was recorded in September 2018 and January 2019. Egg clutches, tadpoles and juveniles were all observed at the reintroduction site. These results suggest that the reintroduction of captive bred individuals to the wild might be an effective management action to restore local populations of this species that had gone extinct.


Translocation of an endangered endemic Korean treefrog Dryophytes suweonensis

Borzée A., Kim Y.-I., Kim Y.-E. & Jang Y. (2018), 15, 6-11


Endangered species in heavily modified landscapes may be vulnerable to extinction if no conservation plan is implemented. The Suweon treefrog Dryophytes suweonensis is an endemic endangered species from the Korean Peninsula. In an attempt to conserve the species, a translocation plan was implemented in the city of Suwon. The receptor site was a specially modified island in a reservoir. Egg clutches were collected from four nearby sites, and were hatched and reared in a laboratory during 2015. One hundred and fifty froglets were released at the new site. In 2016, one year after the translocation, calling male D. suweonensis and newly hatched tadpoles and juveniles were recorded. Juveniles were seen until the last week before hibernation in autumn 2016. However, only a single male was recorded calling in 2017. The population was consequently considered functionally extinct. Failure of the translocation most likely arose from mismanagement of the vegetation surrounding the wetlands, and the resulting inability of the site to fulfil the ecological requirements of the species. The project allowed the development of rearing protocols for the species, and defined its ecological requirements.


Treatment of adult Valcheta frogs Pleurodema somuncurense for chytrid fungus

Arellano M.L., Velasco M.A., Martínez Aguirre T., Zarini O., Belasen A.M., James T.Y. & Kacoliris F.P. (2018), 15, 37-37


Treatment of an ex-situ colony of Valcheta frog with chloramphenicol solution was not successful in eliminating chytrid fungus.


Management strategy to avoid chytrid fungus infection in egg clutches of the Valcheta frog Pleurodema somuncurense

Arellano M.L., Velasco M.A., Martínez Aguirre T., Zarini O., Belasen A.M., James T.Y. & Kacoliris F.P. (2018), 15, 38-38


Eggs which were removed from a chytrid-infected population of Valcheta frogs shortly after laying and then hatched in a clean environment resulted in juveniles free of the fungus.


Education workshops improve the ability of Forest Departments to identify amphibians in Western Ghats, India

Kanagavel A., Parvathy S. & Divakar N. (2017), 14, 21-21


Education workshops conducted with forest departments in Western Ghats resulted in improved ability to identify four of five amphibian species and their habitats.


Effects of culverts and roadside fencing on the rate of roadkill of small terrestrial vertebrates in northern Limpopo, South Africa

Collinson W. J., Davies-Mostert H. T. & Davies-Mostert W. (2017), 14, 39-43


We tested the effectiveness of low-level roadside fencing to direct wildlife towards existing culverts beneath the road (underpasses) in order to reduce road deaths of small terrestrial vertebrates. While our results showed a reduction in roadkill count (from eight to one) along the stretches of road where we installed barriers (from an average of 0.33 roadkill/day/km to 0.04 roadkill/day/km), this decrease was not significant, possibly due to the small number of dead animals detected across all sites. Our trial highlights the challenges in acquiring robust evidence for roadkill reduction interventions and, given the small sample size, we were unable to elicit firm conclusions for this study. We therefore propose further testing of the efficacy of roadside fencing to reduce roadkill.


Livestock management and dam removal allowed the recovery of an aquatic habitat for endangered frog and fish species in Argentinian Patagonia

Arellano M.L., Velasco M.A., Quiroga S., Kass C.A., Kass N.A. & Kacoliris F.P. (2017), 14, 67-67


Placement of fencing around a stream to prevent livestock damage and water flow restoration via removal of a dam allowed riparian and aquatic vegetation recovery (76%) in less than one month. This subsequently allowed the reintroduction of a Critically Endangered frog as well as protection of an Endangered fish species.


Relocation of Puerto Rican cave dwelling frogs Eleutherodactylus cooki into natural and artificial habitats

López-Torres A.L., Rodríguez-Gómez C.A. & Salguero-Faría J.A. (2016), 13, 6-6


We report the results of capturing and relocating 403 Eleutherodactylus cooki frogs. The frequency of recovery of translocated individuals was similar in natural and artificial habitats.


Captive-rearing state endangered crawfish frogs Lithobates areolatus from Indiana, USA

Stiles R.M., Sieggreen M.J., Johnson R.A., Pratt K., Vassallo M., Andrus M., Perry M., Swan J.W. & Lannoo M.J. (2016), 13, 7-11


Crawfish frogs Lithobates areolatus inhabit the tallgrass prairie of the southeastern Great Plains and Mississippi Delta, and have recently been considered for US federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Here we attempt to determine the feasibility of head-starting crawfish frog tadpoles, and establish captive-rearing protocols. Captive-rearing produced more juveniles from fewer egg masses than a natural wetland in each year from 2013–2015, and survivorship of captive-reared tadpoles exceeded that of wild tadpoles. However, high rates of malformations, partial cannibalism, disease, and predation were seen among frogs in some years, and we therefore refined protocols to reduce these issues.



Effectiveness of artificial amphibian breeding sites against non-native species in a public protected area in Tuscany, Italy

Bruni G., Ricciardi G. & Vannini A. (2016), 13, 12-16


The spread of non-native invasive species is among the factors thought to be responsible for the recent global declines in amphibian populations.  In a Protected Natural Area of Local Interest in Tuscany, Italy, we tested approaches for preserving the local amphibian populations threatened by the presence of the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii. The construction of artificial breeding ponds, with suitable vertical barriers, was initially effective in preventing the spread of the red swamp crayfish and created a source site for amphibians, in particular newt species. Unfortunately, five years after construction, the breeding sites were colonized by fish and crayfish, possibly due to the actions of members of the public.



Controlling the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis to conserve the Cape platanna Xenopus gilli in South Africa

de Villiers F.A., de Kock M. & Measey G.J. (2016), 13, 17-17


A five year control programme of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis resulted in improved population demographics in the Cape platanna Xenopus gilli in comparison to a population without removal.


Does legal site protection lead to improved conservation of ponds with fire-bellied toads Bombina bombina in Denmark?

Fog K. & Wederkinch E. (2016), 13, 18-20


In Denmark, nature conservation in the middle of the twentieth century mainly involved protecting areas by legal declarations forbidding the destruction or degradation of the protected area. During the period 1946 to 1969, 22 sites with fire-bellied toads Bombina bombina were protected as single ponds, and 40 ponds with Bombina were protected as a part of larger protected landscapes. We evaluate the survival of Bombina populations in these protected ponds compared to 51 control ponds where Bombina was recorded in 1940-1955, but which were not protected. In all cases, survival of Bombina was low, and although protection may have delayed extinction, there is no clear evidence that it prevented extinction. There was a trend for better outcomes in the larger protected landscapes, but this may have been due to other causes, such as more cattle grazing. It is concluded that passive protection (legal protection without active management) is not effective, whereas the type of active approach that has been used increasingly since 1982 is more promising.



Translocation of great crested newt Triturus cristatus eggs for conservation purposes in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, UK

Haycock G.B. (2016), 13, 27-32


Translocation of great crested newt eggs was undertaken for nature conservation purposes, with the aim of establishing a new population in a currently unoccupied part of their natural range in UK. Research prior to undertaking the translocation established that suitable habitat existed at the receptor site and no great crested newts were present at the time. Approximately 600 eggs were carefully introduced to the receptor pond from a donor pond each spring for three years. Five years after the initial translocation, a population appeared to be established, with breeding recorded in the receptor pond and two adjacent ponds. The methodology may have implications for population translocations undertaken for mitigation purposes under licence in UK, as currently the focus is on welfare and translocation of terrestrial juveniles and adults rather than eggs and larvae. Results reported here indicate that to increase likelihood of success when attempting to translocate populations of great crested newt, an emphasis on translocation of eggs as well as adults in terrestrial phase would be prudent.



Impact of a natural pyrethrin biocide on two amphibians, common toad Bufo bufo and palmate newt Lissotriton helveticus, in Highland, UK

O’Brien C.D., Hall J.E., O’Brien C.T., Baum D. & Ballantyne L. (2013), 10, 70-72


A quarry pond in Highland, UK, was treated with PyBlast (a biocide derived from natural pyrethrin) to eradicate a population of invasive non-native signal crayfish Pacifasticus leniusculus.  Although it was anticipated that pyrethrin application would lead to the death of all poikilothermic animals present in the quarry pond, its use was sanctioned as surveys did not reveal the presence of any protected or other scarce species. It was assumed that native fauna, including amphibians, would re-colonise from an adjacent pond which was not treated. PyBlast (0.4 mg/l) was applied from 12 to 13 June 2012. Follow-up surveys later in June, and in August and September, found no live crayfish, but established the presence of common toad Bufo bufo tadpoles, and both larval and adult palmate newt Lissotriton helveticus.  All appeared developmentally and behaviourally normal.  These observations suggest that common toad and palmate newt larvae are able to survive levels of Pyblast generally lethal to crustaceans, indicating that amphibian presence at a site should not necessarily halt crayfish eradication programmes.




Assessing the use of artificial hibernacula by great crested newts Triturus cristatus and other amphibians for habitat enhancement, Northumberland, England

Latham D. & Knowles M. (2008), 5, 74-79


Use of purpose-built hibernacula by great crested newts Triturus cristatus and other amphibians was evaluated at three sites (eight hibernacula in total) in autumn and a single site (two hibernacula) in spring. Autumn monitoring entailed regular checking under roofing felt tiles placed on the ground (these provide damp, dark refugia which are attractive to newts) in the vicinity of the hibernacula. Although no great crested newts were found under the tiles, six common frogs Rana temporaria and nine common toads Bufo bufo) were recorded at two of the sites. A combination of drift fencing and pitfall trapping was used during spring surveys; a total of 21 amphibians (six great crested newts, six smooth newts T.vulgaris, seven common toads, two common frogs) were caught in the pitfalls in the vicinity of the two hibernacula. In addition, one smooth newt and two toads were caught in a drift fence control situated away from the hibernacula but at a similar distance from the breeding pond. The results appear to demonstrate that the hibernacula are being used (at least in small numbers) by amphibians, including great crested newts at one site.


Improvement in ex-situ egg hatchability of Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus by laboratory incubation of egg masses, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Narayan E., Christi K. & Morley C. (2007), 4, 25-27


Breeding of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus coincided with the Fijian wet season (December/January) during captive management in a purpose-built outdoor enclosure at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. Two fertile egg masses (around 40 eggs in each) were laid. A low hatchability of 10.8% (n = 40) was recorded for the first egg mass found, which was left in the outdoor enclosure to develop. The second egg mass was taken into the laboratory for incubation where hatching success was very much higher at 87.5% (n = 42). The hatchability difference was attributed to appropriate incubation techniques in the laboratory which reduced infection and hence mortality, of the eggs.


Captive management of newly hatched Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus froglets: lessons learnt from an unanticipated invertebrate predator invasion, Suva, Fiji

Narayan E., Christi K. & Morley C. (2007), 4, 58-60


Five newly hatched froglets of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus were transferred into a glass laboratory aquarium upon hatching, following egg-laying by adult frogs during the wet season in a purpose-built outdoor enclosure at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. During captive management of the froglets, their body weight and food supply in the aquarium were closely monitored. All five froglets were successfully raised to 37 days old, at which time the aquarium was invaded by brown house ants Pheidole megacephala. This event was probably caused by excess ripe fruit, placed within the glass aquarium to attract small flies as food for the froglets, attracting the ants. The ants predated all five froglets. Future ex-situ designs for rearing P.vitianus froglets may consider incorporating measures such as aquatic protective barriers to prevent ants and other unwanted terrestrial invertebrates from entering captive-rearing aquaria and other enclosures.



Provision of egg-laying sites for captive breeding of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Narayan E., Christi K. & Morley C. (2007), 4, 61-65


To try and stimulate breeding of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus (n=10) in captivity, a purpose-built outdoor enclosure was built and an environment that mimicked their natural habitat created within it. We incorporated natural structures as potential P.vitianus egg laying sites, including rotting logs and hollow giant bamboo Piper aduncum stems. A range of other types of natural substrates e.g. coconut husks, rocks and decaying leaf litter, were also added thus the frogs could choose between various potential egg-laying sites and refugia. All material was sterilized in an autoclave prior to being installed in the enclosure. Pots containing native plants were also added. Nocturnal frog activity was recorded in the enclosure using digital video surveillance cameras; several male and female frogs were observed in or near potential egg-laying sites throughout much of the assumed wet-season breeding period, and on the 21 December 2006 and 7 January 2007, single clutches of P.vitianus eggs were located. The December clutch was situated underneath a moist rotting log and the January clutch inside a bamboo stem lined with soil. The frogs probably created nest scrapes amongst the leaf litter and soil within these egg-laying sites while mating. It is not known if these egg-laying sites provided ideal egg-laying conditions, but they were used successfully by two pairs of frogs.



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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.

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