The importance of microclimates in the ex situ management of amphibians

  • Jade Newton-Youens

Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


Captive breeding programs are a necessity for many amphibian species. However, programs often suffer due to an inability to successfully maintain species in captivity. These issues often relate to providing unsuitable environmental conditions, that arise due to a lack of knowledge of what a species experiences in the wild. Surveying a species habitat can help to gain key information into their specific microclimate requirements, which can then be used to inform husbandry protocols. Chapter 1 of this thesis aimed to collect this information for Mantella cowani, an endangered species for which there are plans to establish captive populations. The field survey of a population near Antoetra in Madagascar, identified the environmental and microclimate requirements for this species, as well as the demography and size of the population. Whereas this method is best at determining species specific requirements, it is often not feasible due to the cost and time involved. Many species are already found in captivity without field surveys of their wild habitat being conducted. To optimise husbandry protocols for these species, it is possible to conduct evidence-based research, by providing captive animals with a range of variables and letting them choose which is most preferable. Chapter 2 of this thesis aimed to learn more of the environmental preferences of two species of mantella, M. aurantiaca and M. betsileo, species already maintained in captivity. The species were found to have minimal responses to different moisture conditions and lighting treatments provided during the study. Lighting in particular had no influence, with species exhibiting similar behaviour under standard lighting and LED lights. This suggests that LEDs may be a suitable alternative to more traditional lighting systems used in zoos and similar institutions. The study also provided information on the general behaviours of the two species, as well demonstrating the ability of creating a range microclimates within a captive environment. It is hoped the information within this thesis can help inform husbandry practices of Mantella species, as well as other amphibian species more widely.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMatthew Cobb (Supervisor), Kathryn Else (Supervisor) & Sheena Cruickshank (Supervisor)

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