Recovering Southern Corroboree Frogs in Australia
The southern corroboree frog only occurs in the Snowy Mountains region of Kosciuszko National Park in Australia, between 1250 and 1750 meters above sea level. In 2013, CBSG facilitated a workshop to formulate a strategy for the genetic and demographic management of this species.
The southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) has been in continual decline for almost 30 years. In 2013, for the first time, no signs of breeding were observed outside captivity. Extinction in the Wild is expected within the next two to three years. The primary threat is chytridiomycosis. The current hope for the species is that sustained exposure to the chytrid fungus will eventually drive the emergence of resilience in wild populations. Southern Corroboree Frog Recovery Team efforts are therefore focused on sustaining a genetically diverse and abundant population of the species within its natural range.
In September 2013, 12 contributors from seven organizations met in Canberra, Australia to formulate a strategy for the genetic and demographic management of captive southern corroboree frogs, releases from which are currently sustaining the species in the wild. CBSG facilitated the workshop, and deliberations were guided by models and analyses prepared beforehand. Goals for management agreed on by participants included minimizing loss of gene diversity and the rate of inbreeding accumulation, and generating at least 2000 viable, non-inbred eggs for releases each year, for 50 years. The costs and benefits of alternative management strategies were discussed, and a plan for implementation of the agreed approach was developed.
Since the workshop, six of the 10 actions have been achieved and the others are in progress. Proposed genetic groupings of frogs have been finalized and plans set in place for their redistribution among institutions in preparation for the next breeding season. Under the umbrella of the Recovery Team, the captive program continues to work closely with innovative field initiatives, including the establishment and stocking of chytrid-free artificial ponds. Early reports from the most recent breeding period show significant reproduction at two of the institutions, repeating previous success and demonstrating the great potential of this captive breeding program.