Friday, 23 February 2018

Faster reproduction could hold key to saving critically endangered frog

Researchers believe introducing frogs to lower elevation areas would help them reach sexual maturity earlier

Tue 20 Feb 2018 01.48 GMTLast modified on Tue 20 Feb 2018 03.38 GMT

Researchers are hoping to increase the population of one of Australia’s most endangered frogs by helping them reach sexual maturity earlier. 

The number of wild northern corroboree frogs, which are only found in cold, mountainous areas of the ACT and New South Wales, has been in sharp decline, mostly due to chytrid fungus. The fungus causes an infectious disease that is killing frogs around the world. There are only 20 of the small black and yellow striped frogs left living in the wild in the ACT and fewer than 1,000 in NSW. 

The ACT government has a captive breeding program at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and will this month release 30 frogs into an outdoor enclosure to experience a more natural habitat. The next step will be developing a self-sustaining wild population and researchers will spend this year investigating how to give the frogs the best shot at surviving and thriving.

Lead researcher Ben Scheele from the Australian National University said they were looking at the benefits of introducing the frogs to lower elevation areas with warmer temperatures where they would grow faster, reaching sexual maturity at one or two years of age rather than three of four.

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