Publication Details

McInerney, E. P., Silla, A. J. & Byrne, P. G. (2019). Effect of carotenoid class and dose on the larval growth and development of the critically endangered southern corroboree frog. Conservation Physiology, 7 1-11.


Dietary carotenoids are expected to improve vertebrate growth and development, though evidence for beneficial effects remains limited. One reason for this might be that few studies have directly compared the effects of carotenoids from different classes (carotenes versus xanthophylls) at more than one dose. Here, we tested the effect of two doses of dietary β-carotene and lutein (representing two different carotenoid classes) on the growth and development of larval southern corroboree frogs (Pseudophryne corroboree). Individuals were supplemented with either β-carotene or lutein at one of two doses (0.1 mg g−1, 1 mg g−1), or given a diet without carotenoids (control). Each dietary treatment included 36 replicate individuals, and individuals remained on the same diet until metamorphosis (25-39 weeks). We measured larval survival, larval growth (body length), time to metamorphosis, metamorphic body size (mass and SVL), and body condition. Lutein had no detectable effect on larval growth and development. However, larvae receiving a high dose (1 mg g−1) of β-carotene metamorphosed significantly faster than all other dietary treatments, despite no significant differences in growth rate. This result indicates that β-carotene supplementation in P. corroboree has positive effects on development independent of growth effects. Our study provides new evidence for differential effects of carotenoid class and dose on vertebrate development. From a conservation perspective, our findings are expected to assist with the recovery of P. corroboree by expediting the generation of frogs required for the maintenance of captive insurance colonies, or the provision of frogs for release. More broadly, our study highlights the potential for dietary manipulation to assist with the ex situ management of threatened amphibian species worldwide.

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