Amphibians: Vary enclosure temperature to simulate seasonal changes in the wild

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One small, replicated study in Italy found that one of six females bred following a drop in temperature from 20-24 to 17°C, and filling of an egg laying pond.
  • One replicated, before-and-after study in Australia that provided a pre-breeding cooling period, alongside allowing females to gain weight before the breeding period, separating sexes during the non-breeding period, providing mate choice for females and playing recorded mating calls, increased breeding success.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A small, before-and-after study in 1993 of parsley frogs Pelodytes punctatus at Genoa University, Italy found that one of six females bred following filling an egg laying pond with water and a drop in temperature from 22 to 17°C. Immediately after the drop in temperature and filling of the pond, mating and egg laying occurred when none had occurred previously, no statistical tests were carried out. One clutch (500 eggs) was produced and hatched in a separate tank. Thirty-one tadpoles were obtained from the wild in 1993. Tadpoles were housed in a 400 L tank (20 cm water) and metamorphs in a 50 x 50 x 25 cm tank. From eight months animals were housed in a 120 x 60 x 50 cm glass breeding tank with pebbles, moss and a small pond which could be filled with water for breeding. In March 1995, the terrarium was temporarily moved to a room with a steady temperature (22°C), then to a thermostatically controlled chamber (17°C) in April, at the same time the pond was filled with water.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, before-and-after study in 2006-2012 in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia reported that providing a pre-breeding cooling period, along with allowing females to gain significant weight before the breeding period, separating sexes during the non-breeding period, providing mate choice for females and playing recorded mating calls, increased clutch size and decreased egg mortality in captive southern corroboree frogs Pseudophryne corroboree, although no statistical tests were carried out. In 2006 Melbourne Zoo had no cooling period (average clutch size: 21; egg mortality: 95%) In 2007-2011, cooling periods of 6-9⁰C for 31-64 days were used (average clutch size: 21; egg mortality: 85%). In 2012 a cooling period of 98-112 days at 5-12⁰C was used (average clutch size: 46; egg mortality: 27%).  At Taronga Zoo the cooling period was 5⁰C for 56 days for 2010 (average clutch size: 20; egg mortality: 72%), 2011 (average clutch size: 12.2; egg mortality: 26%) and 2012 (average clutch size: 17; egg mortality: 28%).

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Jonas, C.S., Timbrell, L.L., Young, F., Petrovan, S.O., Bowkett, A.E. & Smith, R.K. (2020) Management of Captive Animals. Pages 527-553 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Management of Captive Animals

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Management of Captive Animals
Management of Captive Animals

Management of Captive Animals - Published 2018

Captive Animal Synopsis

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