Artificial fertilisation in a terrestrial toadlet (Pseudophryne guentheri): effect of medium osmolality, sperm concentration and gamete storage
Anurans exhibit a greater reproductive diversity than any other vertebrate order. However, studies investigating the effects of the external fertilisation environment on fertilisation success are limited to aquatic-breeding species. This study investigated the effects of fertilisation medium osmolality, sperm concentration and short-term oocyte storage on fertilisation success in a terrestrial-breeding anuran, Pseudophryne guentheri. Split-clutch experimental designs were used to determine optimal fertilisation conditions. To determine the effect of short-term sperm storage, sperm viability was assessed using fluorescence microscopy and percentage sperm motility and velocity quantified with a computer-assisted sperm analysis system. Fertilisation success was highest in media ranging in osmolality from 25mOsmkg-1 to 100mOsmkg-1, representing a broader range and higher optimal osmolality than previously reported for aquatic breeders. High rates of fertilisation (>75%) were achieved in relatively low sperm concentrations (2.5×104mL-1). Oocytes stored in isotonic solutions (200mOsmkg-1) retained fertilisation capacity (32%) after 8h of storage, while sperm suspensions maintained motility (≥26%) for 13 days. Additional studies on terrestrial-breeding anurans will be required to ascertain whether the optimal fertilisation conditions reported reflect adaptations to achieve fertilisation in a terrestrial environment.