Application of Reproductive Technologies to the Critically Endangered Baw Baw Frog, Philoria frosti
Reproductive technologies (RTs) can assist integrated conservation breeding programs to attain propagation targets and manage genetic diversity more effectively. While the application of RTs to enhance the conservation management of threatened amphibians has lagged behind that of other taxonomic groups, a recent surge in research is narrowing the divide. The present study reports on the first application of RTs (hormone-induced spawning, hormone-induced sperm-release, and sperm cryopreservation) to the critically endangered Baw Baw frog, Philoria frosti. To determine the effect of hormone therapy on spawning success, male–female pairs were administered either 0 μg/g gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa), 0.5 μg/g GnRHa, or 0.5 μg/g GnRHa + 10 μg/g metoclopramide (MET) (n = 6–7 pairs/treatment), and the number of pairs ovipositing, total eggs, and percent fertilisation success were quantified. To determine the effect of hormone therapy on sperm-release and to establish the peak time to collect sperm post-hormone administration, males were administered 0 IU/g (n = 4), or 20 IU/g hCG (n = 16). Total sperm, sperm concentration, and percent viability were quantified at 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 h post-hormone administration. Overall, the percentage of pairs ovipositing was highest in the GnRHa + MET treatment, with 71% of pairs ovipositing, compared to 57% and 33% of pairs in the GnRHa and control treatments, respectively. The quantity of sperm released from males in response to hCG peaked at 4 h post-hormone administration, though it remained high up to 12 h. The percent sperm viability also peaked at 4 h post-administration (94.5%), exhibiting a steady decline thereafter, though viability remained above 77% throughout the 12 h collection period. The remaining sperm samples (n = 22) were cryopreserved using established protocols and biobanked for long-term storage and future conservation applications. The mean post-thaw sperm viability was 59%, and the percent total motility was 17%. The results from this preliminary study will direct further applications of RTs to the critically endangered Baw Baw frog to assist with species recovery.
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Australian Research Council