Research Projects

University of Wollongong

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) encompass a range of techniques to artificially enhance fertility, with enormous potential to complement existing captive breeding programs by allowing more precise control over reproduction and the genetic management of species. While there are several examples of ARTs forming an integral component of successful mammalian conservation programs, their potential in aiding amphibian conservation is only beginning to be realised. Our research at the University of Wollongong is focussed on developing ARTs for common model frog species such as the Bibron’s toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii), and applying these techniques to northern and southern Corroboree frogs. Research includes manipulating hormone profiles to induce natural breeding behaviour, hormonal induction of sperm and egg release, short-term sperm and egg storage, sperm motility activation and in vitro fertilisation (IVF). We are also interested in investigating the role of diet and nutrition on amphibian growth and development, reproductive output, gamete quality and offspring survival.

For more information on this research contact Dr Phil Byrne

Bibron’s Toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii) embryos generated via IVF.

Corroboree Frog tadpole rearing facilities at University of Wollongong.

Australian National University

The research being undertaken at the Australian National University is based on understanding why some Northern Corroboree Frog populations appear to be surviving better than others, despite the presence of the amphibian chytrid fungus. Preliminary observations noted large differences in the abundance of the common Eastern Froglet in different Corroboree Frog populations. Further surveys and sampling found that common eastern froglets carry amphibian chytrid fungus. However, the common Eastern Froglet has not declined and appears to be resistant, acting as a reservoir host for the pathogen. Surveys and disease sampling in Northern Corroboree Frog populations found that the level of amphibian chytrid fungus infection was related to the abundance of the common eastern froglet. The largest Northern Corroboree Frog populations now occur where habitat features are not suitable for common Eastern Froglets. These populations experience reduced disease pressure, providing a positive outlook. This knowledge is currently being used to inform reintroduction strategies for both Corroboree Frog species.

For more information on this research contact Benjamin Scheele

Corroboree Frog being swabbed for chytrid fungus

(Photo: David Hunter, OEH)