A University of Wollongong-led project is well on track to giving the critically endangered southern corroboree frog a “silver-spoon start to life”.
UOW evolutionary biologist Dr Phillip Byrne and conservation biologist Dr Aimee Silla are leading the “Nutritional requirements of the critically endangered corroboree frog” project, which was recently awarded $334,000 over three years under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme.
The project will test whether giving individual frogs in a captive breeding program access to superior nutrition (a silver-spoon advantage) improves their fitness and their ability to survive once re-introduced to the wild.
“More than one-third of amphibian species worldwide are now threatened with extinction, including the southern corroboree frog, which is one of Australia’s most critically endangered species,” Dr Byrne said.
The team plan to test the effect of a group of compounds known as dietary carotenoids on a range of fitness-determining traits in southern corroboree frogs, both in captivity and in the field post-release.
“If dietary carotenoids are found to improve corroboree frog fitness, the findings will not only be of enormous benefit to the recovery of this species, but will provide a cost effective action that could easily be incorporated into amphibian captive breeding programs globally,” Dr Silla said.
Research partners at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Zoos Victoria and Deakin University have also collectively contributed an additional $175,000 in funding towards the corroboree frogs project.