Evidence based ex situ husbandry for captive amphibians

  • Christopher Michaels

    Student thesis: Phd


    Amphibians are declining worldwide in response to pressures that are too numerous, difficult and rapid to ameliorate in the wild before some taxa become extinct. Ex situ conservation, whereby animals are maintained in captivity until threats in the wild have been resolved, is the only means of saving up to five hundred amphibian species. Amongst political, financial and practical hurdles, the most fundamental problem for these programmes is lack of knowledge about how to maintain species successfully in captivity. Captive populations have failed to survive or reproduce and, furthermore, captive husbandry may produce animals unsuitable for reintroduction through intra or inter-generational changes. These problems entirely undermine initiatives and if ex situ programs are to succeed, evidence based captive husbandry is needed to support captive breeding programs. In this thesis, I quantify our ignorance of amphibian requirements in captivity. Furthermore, I present investigations into fundamental areas ofamphibian husbandry, about which we currently know very little. I investigate the relationship between amphibians and Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation and examine the relationship between UVB provision and calcium provision and evaluate routes of dietary calcium supplementation. I also present data on the effects of enrichment and rearing environment on the growth, fitness, behaviour and dermal bacterial communities of captive amphibians. These results, from a range of areas of amphibian husbandry, together demonstrate the power of the captive environment to influence the phenotype and therefore the fitness of amphibians, even within single generations. Additionally, I provide some of the first data addressing key areas of amphibian husbandry that until now have been led mostly or entirely by anecdote and hearsay.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorRichard Preziosi (Supervisor) & Catherine Walton (Supervisor)


    • environmental enrichment
    • calcium supplementation
    • UVB radiation
    • ex-situ conservation
    • Amphibian
    • conservation breeding

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