Monday, 10 March 2008

New breeding captivity program at the Peñalara Natural Park

The local government of Madrid, in collaboration with the Museum of Natural History of Spain and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, has started a breeding captivity program to save the midwife toad and the Iberian frog from the Peñalara Natural Park.
The population of midwife toad crashed in 1997 as a consequence of the chytrid fungus, while the Iberian frog was extirpated from most part of the area by introduced trouts. After several years of management and studies, most introduced fish have been removed, and the chytrid fungus levels are apparently lower.
The new facilities include three rooms where tadpoles, metamorphs and crickets (used as alive food) are housed under temperature, humidity and light controlled conditions. Thirty-eight tanks of 80 l each are used to keep isolated tadpoles from different metapopulations for approximately one year, and 90 small boxes are used to keep metamorphs growing until they are released in the field. Egg clutches and small tadpoles of Iberian frogs are captured in the field and grow in the breeding facilities to increase their probability of survival. Captivity-born midwife toads will be produced from the last few adults which survive the disease. Animals to be released in the field will be treated with itraconazole and/or high temperatures at the end of the metamorphosis, to prevent them from dying during that critical period.