Amphibians: Supplement diets with carotenoids (including for colouration)

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

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study in the USA found that adding carotenoids to fruit flies fed to frogs reduced the number of clutches, but increased the number of tadpoles and successful metamorphs.

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 replicated, before-and-after study in 2009-2012 in Louisiana, USA found that covering the rearing area (media) of prey fruit fly with carotenoid supplements increased the rate at which tadpoles successfully completed metamorphosis when fed to Strawberry poison frogs Oophaga pumilio compared to a diet of flies not supplemented with carotenoids. Pairs produced fewer clutches on the supplemented diet (average per pair: 8) compared to the unsupplemented diet (14), however, they produced more tadpoles (unsupplemented: 3; supplemented: 6) and more metamorphs (unsupplemented: 1; supplemented: 3). From August 2009 to January 2011 fruit flies were reared in conditions similar to commercially reared flies, from February 2011 to November 2012 the rearing media was augmented with carotenoid supplements Red phaffia yeast, powdered marine algae and Spirulina. The fruit flies were then fed to 50 male and 52 female poison frogs.

    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

All the journals searched for all synopses

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

What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust