Current rates of biodiversity loss pose an unprecedented challenge to the conservation community, particularly with amphibians and freshwater fish as the most threatened vertebrates. An increasing number of environmental challenges, including habitat loss, pathogens, and global warming, demand a global response toward the sustainable management of ecosystems and their biodiversity. Conservation Breeding Programs (CBPs) are needed for the sustainable management of amphibian species threatened with extinction. CBPs support species survival while increasing public awareness and political influence. Current CBPs only cater for 10% of the almost 500 amphibian species in need. However, the use of sperm storage to increase efficiency and reliability, along with an increased number of CBPs, offer the potential to significantly reduce species loss. The establishment and refinement of techniques over the last two decades, for the collection and storage of amphibian spermatozoa, gives confidence for their use in CBPs and other biotechnical applications. Cryopreserved spermatozoa has produced breeding pairs of frogs and salamanders and the stage is set for Lifecycle Proof of Concept Programs that use cryopreserved sperm in CBPs along with repopulation, supplementation, and translocation programs. The application of cryopreserved sperm in CBPs, is complimentary to but separate from archival gene banking and general cell and tissue storage. However, where appropriate amphibian sperm banking should be integrated into other global biobanking projects, especially those for fish, and those that include the use of cryopreserved material for genomics and other research. Research over a broader range of amphibian species, and more uniformity in experimental methodology, is needed to inform both theory and application. Genomics is revolutionising our understanding of biological processes and increasingly guiding species conservation through the identification of evolutionary significant units as the conservation focus, and through revealing the intimate relationship between evolutionary history and sperm physiology that ultimately affects the amenability of sperm to refrigerated or frozen storage. In the present review we provide a nascent phylogenetic framework for integration with other research lines to further the potential of amphibian sperm banking.
Available for download on Wednesday, June 03, 2020