Zoo populations are playing an increasingly vital role in conservation, especially in amphibians as the in-zoo breeding of species makes reintroductions an important conservation technique. The research involves measuring the characteristics of golden mantellas at the zoo and comparing these to the information gathered in the field in Madagascar. The aim is to increase our understanding of where conditions can be enhanced even further to ensure optimal fitness for future in-situ generations of golden mantella and increase the success of reintroduction programmes.
Indicators of species fitness, including vocal calls, skin colouration, body conditioning, presence of skin microbiota and tonic immobility were tested using samples from five distinct populations of golden mantella; Chester Zoo’s collection, founders collected from the wild and their offspring, wild frogs from the Mangabe region and two groups from the Mitsinjo breeding association. Differences in body condition, skin colouration and tonic immobility have been noted between the five populations.
Once all the data is analysed we will have a better understanding of the species’ fitness and how variations in characteristics may impact them in the wild. Knowing this information can help us make more informed decisions and improve the success of reintroductions in the future.