Providing evidence to improve practice

The journal, Conservation Evidence

Our online journal publishes research, monitoring results and case studies on the effects of conservation interventions. All papers include some monitoring of the effects of the intervention and are written by, or in partnership with, those who did the conservation work. It includes interventions such as habitat creation, habitat restoration, translocations, reintroductions, invasive species control, and education or integrated conservation development programmes, from anywhere around the world.

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A volume is created each year with peer-reviewed papers published throughout the year. We now accept Short Communications as well as standard papers.

Special issues contain new papers on a specific topic.

Virtual collections collate papers published in the journal on specific topics such as management of particular groups of species.

To search for papers on a specific topic within the journal select 'Advanced search' on the Home page, enter your keyword(s) and within the Source box type: "conservation evidence".

Amphibian management



This virtual collection contains 12 papers on amphibian conservation management.

Education workshops conducted with forest departments in Western Ghats resulted in improved ability to identify four of five amphibian species and their habitats.

Relocation of Puerto Rican cave dwelling frogs Eleutherodactylus cooki into natural and artificial habitats
López-Torres A.L., Rodríguez-Gómez C.A. & Salguero-Faría J.A. (2016), 13, 6-6

We report the results of capturing and relocating 403 Eleutherodactylus cooki frogs. The frequency of recovery of translocated individuals was similar in natural and artificial habitats.

Captive-rearing state endangered crawfish frogs Lithobates areolatus from Indiana, USA
Stiles R.M., Sieggreen M.J., Johnson R.A., Pratt K., Vassallo M., Andrus M., Perry M., Swan J.W. & Lannoo M.J. (2016), 13, 7-11

Crawfish frogs Lithobates areolatus inhabit the tallgrass prairie of the southeastern Great Plains and Mississippi Delta, and have recently been considered for US federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Here we attempt to determine the feasibility of head-starting crawfish frog tadpoles, and establish captive-rearing protocols. Captive-rearing produced more juveniles from fewer egg masses than a natural wetland in each year from 2013–2015, and survivorship of captive-reared tadpoles exceeded that of wild tadpoles. However, high rates of malformations, partial cannibalism, disease, and predation were seen among frogs in some years, and we therefore refined protocols to reduce these issues.

 

The spread of non-native invasive species is among the factors thought to be responsible for the recent global declines in amphibian populations.  In a Protected Natural Area of Local Interest in Tuscany, Italy, we tested approaches for preserving the local amphibian populations threatened by the presence of the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii. The construction of artificial breeding ponds, with suitable vertical barriers, was initially effective in preventing the spread of the red swamp crayfish and created a source site for amphibians, in particular newt species. Unfortunately, five years after construction, the breeding sites were colonized by fish and crayfish, possibly due to the actions of members of the public.

 

A five year control programme of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis resulted in improved population demographics in the Cape platanna Xenopus gilli in comparison to a population without removal.

In Denmark, nature conservation in the middle of the twentieth century mainly involved protecting areas by legal declarations forbidding the destruction or degradation of the protected area. During the period 1946 to 1969, 22 sites with fire-bellied toads Bombina bombina were protected as single ponds, and 40 ponds with Bombina were protected as a part of larger protected landscapes. We evaluate the survival of Bombina populations in these protected ponds compared to 51 control ponds where Bombina was recorded in 1940-1955, but which were not protected. In all cases, survival of Bombina was low, and although protection may have delayed extinction, there is no clear evidence that it prevented extinction. There was a trend for better outcomes in the larger protected landscapes, but this may have been due to other causes, such as more cattle grazing. It is concluded that passive protection (legal protection without active management) is not effective, whereas the type of active approach that has been used increasingly since 1982 is more promising.

 

Translocation of great crested newt eggs was undertaken for nature conservation purposes, with the aim of establishing a new population in a currently unoccupied part of their natural range in UK. Research prior to undertaking the translocation established that suitable habitat existed at the receptor site and no great crested newts were present at the time. Approximately 600 eggs were carefully introduced to the receptor pond from a donor pond each spring for three years. Five years after the initial translocation, a population appeared to be established, with breeding recorded in the receptor pond and two adjacent ponds. The methodology may have implications for population translocations undertaken for mitigation purposes under licence in UK, as currently the focus is on welfare and translocation of terrestrial juveniles and adults rather than eggs and larvae. Results reported here indicate that to increase likelihood of success when attempting to translocate populations of great crested newt, an emphasis on translocation of eggs as well as adults in terrestrial phase would be prudent.

 

A quarry pond in Highland, UK, was treated with PyBlast (a biocide derived from natural pyrethrin) to eradicate a population of invasive non-native signal crayfish Pacifasticus leniusculus.  Although it was anticipated that pyrethrin application would lead to the death of all poikilothermic animals present in the quarry pond, its use was sanctioned as surveys did not reveal the presence of any protected or other scarce species. It was assumed that native fauna, including amphibians, would re-colonise from an adjacent pond which was not treated. PyBlast (0.4 mg/l) was applied from 12 to 13 June 2012. Follow-up surveys later in June, and in August and September, found no live crayfish, but established the presence of common toad Bufo bufo tadpoles, and both larval and adult palmate newt Lissotriton helveticus.  All appeared developmentally and behaviourally normal.  These observations suggest that common toad and palmate newt larvae are able to survive levels of Pyblast generally lethal to crustaceans, indicating that amphibian presence at a site should not necessarily halt crayfish eradication programmes.

 

 

Use of purpose-built hibernacula by great crested newts Triturus cristatus and other amphibians was evaluated at three sites (eight hibernacula in total) in autumn and a single site (two hibernacula) in spring. Autumn monitoring entailed regular checking under roofing felt tiles placed on the ground (these provide damp, dark refugia which are attractive to newts) in the vicinity of the hibernacula. Although no great crested newts were found under the tiles, six common frogs Rana temporaria and nine common toads Bufo bufo) were recorded at two of the sites. A combination of drift fencing and pitfall trapping was used during spring surveys; a total of 21 amphibians (six great crested newts, six smooth newts T.vulgaris, seven common toads, two common frogs) were caught in the pitfalls in the vicinity of the two hibernacula. In addition, one smooth newt and two toads were caught in a drift fence control situated away from the hibernacula but at a similar distance from the breeding pond. The results appear to demonstrate that the hibernacula are being used (at least in small numbers) by amphibians, including great crested newts at one site.

Breeding of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus coincided with the Fijian wet season (December/January) during captive management in a purpose-built outdoor enclosure at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. Two fertile egg masses (around 40 eggs in each) were laid. A low hatchability of 10.8% (n = 40) was recorded for the first egg mass found, which was left in the outdoor enclosure to develop. The second egg mass was taken into the laboratory for incubation where hatching success was very much higher at 87.5% (n = 42). The hatchability difference was attributed to appropriate incubation techniques in the laboratory which reduced infection and hence mortality, of the eggs.

Five newly hatched froglets of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus were transferred into a glass laboratory aquarium upon hatching, following egg-laying by adult frogs during the wet season in a purpose-built outdoor enclosure at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. During captive management of the froglets, their body weight and food supply in the aquarium were closely monitored. All five froglets were successfully raised to 37 days old, at which time the aquarium was invaded by brown house ants Pheidole megacephala. This event was probably caused by excess ripe fruit, placed within the glass aquarium to attract small flies as food for the froglets, attracting the ants. The ants predated all five froglets. Future ex-situ designs for rearing P.vitianus froglets may consider incorporating measures such as aquatic protective barriers to prevent ants and other unwanted terrestrial invertebrates from entering captive-rearing aquaria and other enclosures.

 

To try and stimulate breeding of the endangered Fijian ground frog Platymantis vitianus (n=10) in captivity, a purpose-built outdoor enclosure was built and an environment that mimicked their natural habitat created within it. We incorporated natural structures as potential P.vitianus egg laying sites, including rotting logs and hollow giant bamboo Piper aduncum stems. A range of other types of natural substrates e.g. coconut husks, rocks and decaying leaf litter, were also added thus the frogs could choose between various potential egg-laying sites and refugia. All material was sterilized in an autoclave prior to being installed in the enclosure. Pots containing native plants were also added. Nocturnal frog activity was recorded in the enclosure using digital video surveillance cameras; several male and female frogs were observed in or near potential egg-laying sites throughout much of the assumed wet-season breeding period, and on the 21 December 2006 and 7 January 2007, single clutches of P.vitianus eggs were located. The December clutch was situated underneath a moist rotting log and the January clutch inside a bamboo stem lined with soil. The frogs probably created nest scrapes amongst the leaf litter and soil within these egg-laying sites while mating. It is not known if these egg-laying sites provided ideal egg-laying conditions, but they were used successfully by two pairs of frogs.