Development and application of assisted reproductive technologies for the conservation of anuran amphibians
The aim of this study is to develop protocols that will allow deliberate control of critical stages of gamete maturation and release: oogenesis, ovulation, oviposition, spermatogenesis and spermiation. These processes can be induced via the use of exogenous hormones, but results vary considerably between and within species making current assisted reproductive technologies (ART) with frogs unpredictable and of limited value as a general approach to frog conservation. My project will investigate techniques for collecting high quality sperm and eggs as well as determining optimal IVF techniques to improve fertilisation success.
Amphibian decline is recognised as a serious phenomenon affecting amphibian populations worldwide. Australia is among the countries most adversely affected, with 47 of 214 described frog species threatened with extinction. To impede further loss of amphibian biological and genetic diversity, captive breeding and assisted reproductive technologies have been identified as a mechanism which will allow development of captive populations to be used in future reintroduction programs when threatening processes have been ameliorated. The translocation of captive-propagated avian and mammalian species to establish new populations, reestablish expired populations, or augment existing small populations, has resulted in 81% of these programs successfully generating self-sustaining populations. Developing ART for a range of amphibian species will aid in impeding the catastrophic loss of amphibians worldwide.