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Old 11-19-2009, 07:11 PM
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Default Conservation and the hobby

This thread is a split from the conversation that evolved in THIS thread so that we can more specifically discuss some of the themes and topics that came up there. However, as we begin this discussion, I would ask that all who choose to participate and respond here do so respectfully and thoughtfully and only after reading the thread in its entirety up to that point in order to help avoid pointless arguments and needless drama.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

To get started on this topic, I first want to deal with some myths that have managed to root themselves into the ethos of the hobby:

1. Keeping amphibians in captivity prevents them from going extinct.
This notion is potentially true, but in practice it is almost always false. To successfully preserve a species in captivity, careful management is required as well as hundreds of specimens. Breeders have to pay careful attention to the wild origins of specimens to make sure breeding groups aren't mixed between subspecies and/or populations. Breeders need to record pedigree information and select mating pairs to maintain genetic makeup as close to wild populations as possible. And breeders have to minimize the number of generations produced in captivity to minimize genetic drift. Careful steps have to be taken to reduce the effect of artificial selection (which removes genes that are important in the wild but not in captivity). Also, captive populations have to be maintained in sufficient numbers to ensure that ALL genes present in the founding population are preserved in subsequent generations. Rarely, if ever, are these conditions met by private hobbyists working alone...and is exactly why the Amphibian Steward Network (ASN) was started.

For the most part, the hobby as it currently functions is more like a museum that maintains/displays animals that also exist in the wild. The vast majority of people's collections aren't so much resources for conservation as they are natural history collections.

2. Our animals can be used to restore amphibians to the wild.
Restoring wild populations of animals from captive stock is one of the most difficult challenges in wildlife conservation. At the least, captive stocks need to be maintained so that they are genetically equipped for survival in the wild, which requires extremely careful captive management. This is important for hobbyists to understand because it means that almost all of the existing captive specimens in private collections no longer meet the criteria for repatriation in the wild. This doesn't mean that managing those animals doesn't serve a conservation purpose...but releasing them (or their offspring) into the wild simply isn't an option. And this doesn't take into effect any of the biosecurity risks involved in such an undertaking (and is the reason why the vast majority of animals currently being kept outside of their range country, whether they be in the hands of an institution or a private hobbyist, will not be used for the purposes of reintroduction).

3. By being interested in the natural history and ecology of amphibians and their plight in the wild, we are participating in conservation.
As important and necessary as these attitudes and interests are to conservation...they are not, in and of themselves, conserving the animals and their environments. If we're honest with ourselves, the hobby at its core actually works against the conservation of these animals: we use electricity and water to maintain them, possibly risk the well-being of local amphibian populations through disease transmission, and we spend money on animals for our interest and personal collections that could be donated to direct conservation efforts. Amphibians that might otherwise have been left alone in the wild are collected by someone because they realize that folks like us would probably pay a pretty penny to keep them in a glass box, and so numerous wild populations are exploited to drive potential market demand. We can be fascinated by and concerned about these organisms and their environments while at the same time, by our actions and buying habits, being a direct or indirect thread to their well-being and existence.

4. If a frog is rare or difficult to breed in the captive hobby, it is rare or not doing well in the wild (and also: if it's listed by CITES it must be endangered).
I don't think there is much more to say about this--it simply isn't true. The vast majority of Dendrobatids are doing just fine in the wild, and a few species such as Dendrobates auratus and Oophaga pumilio are actually quite resilient to human disturbance and development and may be using it to their advantage. "Blue Jeans" pumilio aren't rare or endangered in the wild. In fact, most hobbyists keeping them would say they aren't any more difficult to breed than any other pumilio species...but the hobby has mythologized them into being something else. The simple fact is they are a morph/population of frog that was nearly lost from the hobby due to a boom/bust fad cycle, and a couple people managed to keep and breed them in spite of that. Losing them from the hobby would not have meant they were lost or even threatened in the wild, it simply would have meant our inability to stay focused and committed to consistently keeping species in our captive care would have resulted in one less type of frog we could keep in our captive collections.

Hopefully this is enough to get us started, and that throughout this conversation we can be honest enough to call hobby misnomers and myths for what they are and take an honest look at the hobby and conservation.
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Last edited by skylsdale; 11-19-2009 at 07:22 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:12 PM
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Nice work Ron....

I'm subscribed.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:49 PM
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Very nice and thought out set up for this discussion.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:50 PM
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What are some of the ways/things people do to help with the conservation of dart frogs? I would like to know what is out there so that maybe I can help.
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by iljjlm View Post
What are some of the ways/things people do to help with the conservation of dart frogs? I would like to know what is out there so that maybe I can help.
I wanted to avoid starting this thread off with a novel, and decided I would focus on some of those issues with a seperate reply in this thread once I can get my thoughts together. As I mentioned above: most dart frogs don't need conserving in the wild. But, my guess would be that the biggest threat to some of these populations that might be at risk would be overcollection for the frog hobby (although it's hard to say since official population studies and numbers, to my knowledge, don't exist except for species that have a much larger presence in the international pet trade. First-hand anecdotal observations and info from guys like Evan and Jason on Dendrobates.org provide some of the best info we have available for PDFs specifically).

Regardless, I think there are ways that this can be minimized or alleviated. When I get some more time I'll try to address that.
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:36 PM
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I would be fascinated to see how some of these new imports fare over time. For example the Veradero's and the Benedicta's. Most of what we see is regarding boom and bust cycles and popularity trends based on general examples, but with these frogs it seems like there is an opportunity to see how they started in the hobby, how they were (or were not) established, how it impacted the price and popularity of the frogs, and how it would potentially impact their future importation. Potentially something to point to 5-10 years from now. Is there a way to track these animals on their most basic level? For example how many frogs came into the US? Is there a push to get these animals registerred with ASN, create TMP's? I know that registerring animals is a personal choice but it seems like a tremendous opportunity to track, manage, and help determine if the ASN program is something that will gain a foothold with everyday hobbyists. While these frogs will never make it back to the wild, it seems like if there was ever an opportunity to gage the hobbies impact on wild populations it would be now. Just some thoughts, have no idea if they are coherent....
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:41 PM
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Nice opening post Ron.

I would urge caution when assessing conservation needs for species (dendrobatids and otherwise) that are common or otherwise appear to be doing well. There have been a lot of populations (some bird species come to mind) that were extremely common but exhibited population crashes over a short time period.

Also, I think that the field of ecology is starting to shift from a conservation focus to a restoration focus. Essentially, there's not enough wilderness left to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning even if we could buy it all up tomorrow, and I would argue that conserving all the frog genes in the world is a somewhat fruitless effort if the wild isn't suitable to return them to.
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:56 PM
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1. Keeping amphibians in captivity prevents them from going extinct.

Yes, this is a very common misconception. The hobby will never perform like a Noah's ark. There are a multitude of reasons why a CB animal can not easily, if at all, ever been reintroduced to the wild.
But.....advances with techniques and methods in private herpetoculture have proven essential in academic research for zoological programs as well as in situ facilities. Hobbyists do contribute here.


2. Our animals can be used to restore amphibians to the wild.
They almost certainly cannot. Also see above.


3. By being interested in the natural history and ecology of amphibians and their plight in the wild, we are participating in conservation.

"Interested"? More than a few hobbyists have collections with hundreds of frogs and excellent breeding success with hard to keep species. They have written papers and posted articles on same, encouraging others to advance their husbandry skills. Hobbyists have given speeches and presented papers at IHS and IAD. That's much more than casual "interest".

"Keeping a frog in a box is not conservation"

Basically true but if that frog directly leads to attending a Symposium and donating $200.00 to a conservation cause - quess what? That person is a bona fide conservationist because of a frog in a box. To belittle that effort is to attain an eliteist mentality and that is helpful to no one.

In fact...it's "Green on Green crime" (tm).

4. If a frog is rare or difficult to breed in the captive hobby, it is rare or not doing well in the wild (and also: if it's listed by CITES it must be endangered).

You are spot on here Ron

Good stuff.
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:56 PM
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Good start,
I'm sure your planing on it, but could you describe tmps in detail. I believe theres a number of people that don't know what they are or their importance. Or for that matter how they can help.
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by BrianC View Post
Also, I think that the field of ecology is starting to shift from a conservation focus to a restoration focus. Essentially, there's not enough wilderness left to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning even if we could buy it all up tomorrow, and I would argue that conserving all the frog genes in the world is a somewhat fruitless effort if the wild isn't suitable to return them to.
Hi Brian,

I'm not sure I would say that ecology is shifting from conservation to restoration since restoration is simply one of many tools informed by ecology that makes up what we think of as conservation and conservation science. Also, I've been in the conservation profession for quite awhile and haven't seen any estimates that existing habitat can't support the majority of our biodiversity. Certainly for some species we have already crossed that threshold. But for the majority of species on the planet, I think they could hold on and even recover if we suddenly stopped destroying habitat and addressed the climate issue. If you've seen something to the contrary, I'd like to see it as it would be pretty handy for me to know about.

But more to the habitat point, it's important to remember that what is happening with amphibians is not necessarily a habitat issue. We have amphibians dissapearing from rather large tracts of fairly isolated habitat that appears otherwise perfectly functional for supporting habitat. This is more akin with the over hunting issues of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, or the DDT issue of the mid 20th century. In those cases the successful conservation of species depended on mitigating the threat, and in many cases, restoring wildlife populations with remnant wild, or captive stocks. Habitat loss is a huge issue to be sure, but it is not the only threat facing wildlife. I think the case is pretty strong that a significant number of amphibian species should be conserved through managed captive populations. But you are right that dendrobatids are not generally among them.

But with respect to ASN and dendrobatids, There are indirect benefits to getting hobbyists involved in captive management. First, it is the right thing to do. One thing we know for certain is that genetics drift in unmanaged populations and eventually our captive frogs will resemble wild animals about as much as a teddy bear hamster resembles its wild Syrian ancestors. If that happens, then the only place to get fresh stock of wild type animals is from the wild (think about corn snakes for example). I think it is much more responsible to maintain a population of captive animals in a managed program to minimize drift and ensure a viable population that genetically resembles the wild stock. If for no other reason than to eliminate the need to continually go back to the wild to extract more animals. Another benefit of managing "common" species like dendrobatids in captivity is to provide training to stewards and demonstrate a proof of concept that private hobbyists really can contribute to captive conservation efforts. Right now zoos and professional institutions don't have the capacity to propagate all amphibian species that need captive management for survival. If a program like ASN can demonstrate that private individuals can collaborate in an effective and professional way, it could unlock a huge pool of resources to meet the challenge.
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:51 PM
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I'm sure your planing on it, but could you describe tmps in detail. I believe theres a number of people that don't know what they are or their importance. Or for that matter how they can help.
No problem. A TMP (Taxon Management Plan) gives recommendations for the long-term captive management of a given population/species. This includes recommended size of founding population, basic care of the species, notes on its native habitat, breakdowns of specific captive populations, etc. They are the template for any given species/population and how it should be managed in captivity.

TMP's give captive populations one of two designations:
1) track
2) manage

Populations that have lineages/origins that can be clearly traced back to their source are given a "manage" designation, meaning that they will be included in an actively managed population. Populations that are more obscure in their origins and lineages are given a "track" designation, meaning that we keep tabs on them (track them) and continue to manage them for genetic diversity, etc...but not to the extent of "managed" populations.

Now, let's say a TMP recommends that species "X" needs a minimum founding population of 20 unrelated individuals to maintain genetic diversity for the next 100 years or so. Once those 20 individuals can be located (e.g. once enough people step forward to participate in the TMP with their animals), that working group will be closed to any frogs from outside that group. This safeguard is to help prevent animals of unknown provenance, intergrades, hybrids, etc. from being included in the group. So, although the hobby at large my be creating designer morphs and hybrids and whatnot, the animals within that group will exist as a protected population, and anyone who receives offspring of those animals will know with all certainty the lineage of their animals. Once a founding group of animals is established and the group is closed, we would consider this an actively managed group. Although we have released a handful of TMPs so far (and have more in the works), we have yet to actually start actively managing any captive populations.

Each TMP is created by a TMG (Taxon Management Group), which is basically a team of stewards who are interested in a certain species. They do all of the footwork of population and lineage research, track down import dates, etc. and then, based on all of that information, propose their management recommendations to the ASN committee who reviews it. Once all the kinks are worked out, the TMP is then released and the process of putting together founding populations begins.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by BrianC View Post

Also, I think that the field of ecology is starting to shift from a conservation focus to a restoration focus. Essentially, there's not enough wilderness left to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning even if we could buy it all up tomorrow, and I would argue that conserving all the frog genes in the world is a somewhat fruitless effort if the wild isn't suitable to return them to.
At this time it is too soon to write off the habitat as historically there are multiple examples where the habitat has been basically wiped out and has since recovered.. for example the state of West Virginia at one point was over 90% clearcut...
In Central America (the Mayan empire), deforestation has been estimated to be comparable as that above..


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Old 11-20-2009, 01:23 AM
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I'm not sure I would say that ecology is shifting from conservation to restoration since restoration is simply one of many tools informed by ecology that makes up what we think of as conservation and conservation science. Also, I've been in the conservation profession for quite awhile and haven't seen any estimates that existing habitat can't support the majority of our biodiversity. Certainly for some species we have already crossed that threshold. But for the majority of species on the planet, I think they could hold on and even recover if we suddenly stopped destroying habitat and addressed the climate issue. If you've seen something to the contrary, I'd like to see it as it would be pretty handy for me to know about.
I think you're right that restoration ecology is rooted in the field of conservation and in many ways the goals are the same. I also think that restoration ecology has emerged as a field in itself, which involves a different mindset from a more classical conservation approach. There's an interesting review from 2000 by Truman Young in Biological Conservation that presents some ideas on where restoration fits in conservation.

With regards to biodiversity I was thinking about Tilman's 'extinction debt' as it could apply large scale. Essentially, the concept that there's a lag time between habitat disturbance and corresponding species loss, and we have built up an extinction debt that will be paid over time even if no further perturbations were to occur. It's not a new idea but I'm under the impression that it's still at least a consideration. To your knowledge has that concept been largely rejected?

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Old 11-20-2009, 01:58 AM
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for example the state of West Virginia at one point was over 90% clearcut... In Central America (the Mayan empire), deforestation has been estimated to be comparable as that above..
Ed
Please correct me if I am making erroneous assumptions here. I am also sure climate plays a part in this, but if the Mayan empire, which extended down to western Honduras, was believed to be 90% clearcut. Could this be why there seems to be less species here than further south in Central America? Because of this, the ones that couldn't adapt just perished.

I understand that human encroachment and disruption doesn't always effect all animals, which in fact some might thrive. I have seen first hand O pumilio and P lugubris living in a nursery and gardens in Costa Rica (This is not like nurseries here, it was just a bunch of tables with bromeliads on them with just a shade cloth over it). Also have seen D auratus living in and around chopped up wood piles.

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Old 11-20-2009, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by iljjlm View Post
Please correct me if I am making erroneous assumptions here. I am also sure climate plays a part in this, but if the Mayan empire, which extended down to western Honduras, was believed to be 90% clearcut. Could this be why there seems to be less species here than further south in Central America? Because of this, the ones that couldn't adapt just perished.

I understand that human encroachment and disruption doesn't always effect all animals, which in fact some might thrive. I have seen first hand O pumilio and P lugubris living in a nursery and gardens in Costa Rica (This is not like nurseries here, it was just a bunch of tables with bromeliads on them with just a shade cloth over it). Also have seen D auratus living in and around chopped up wood piles.

Dave
Hi Dave,

Sorry I stated that badly.. The core areas of the Mayan empire were deforested to that extent...

I'm not sure we can make the assumption that this is a reason for lower number of species in a region as opposed to another area..

Ed
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:21 AM
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Sorry I stated that badly.. The core areas of the Mayan empire were deforested to that extent... I'm not sure we can make the assumption that this is a reason for lower number of species in a region as opposed to another area..
Ed
Thanks Ed, that makes a little more sense. I pictured in my head fields of open grassland.
As far as to the lower number of species, I figure it has more to do with geography and climate now that I know it wasn't almost completely deforested at one time.

Dave
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:33 AM
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Hi Dave,

You might find this summary interesting The Rise and Fall of the Mayan Empire

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Old 11-20-2009, 08:20 AM
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Populations that have lineages/origins that can be clearly traced back to their source are given a "manage" designation.. ..Populations that are more obscure in their origins and lineages are given a "track" designation
Although this has been true in most cases, it is not a set protocol which I'll explain shortly. The ASN committee is in the process of rewriting the handbook and once this is done all our guidelines and protocols will be updated and clarified in the new handbook. There are many factors that go into consideration when writing a taxon management plan along with deciding which populations to simply track and which to actively manage. I will give a few example scenarios, everything is always open to discussion within a taxon management group to find the best method of action.

One scenario could be where there is a distinct population that is only represented by one population in captivity (and that population cannot be clearly traced back to a source with locality data). Although the locality data may not be there, it could still be beneficial to have a managed captive population to keep a steady flow of captive bred animals which still represent the original importation, to reduce the need to import new animals to replenish the captive stock. Otherwise you'd just have hobbyists trying to import locality specific animals under the label of conservation. If it's done sustainably like the projects of INIBICO and Understory Enterprises, then that's another story. In most cases, conservation in this hobby is more about doing your best with what's already here.

There could also be another scenario where two populations are available in captivity, one with locality and one without, but the one with locality does not have enough founder stock to maintain a high percentage of the original alleles, yet the population without locality does have the required founder stock. The taxon management group, through careful reading and research, would have to make a decision as to the better option. Both animals that can and can't be traced back to the source can have conservation value, and while the animals with a clear trace back to their source will usually be the ones focused on for active managed captive populations, each specific species/population (both in the wild and captivity, comparatively) would need to be looked at to make a decision. Getting late, will finish this later.

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Old 11-20-2009, 03:29 PM
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I agree with Mike here. I feel very strongly that we should discourage the continued taking of dart frogs from the wild just to be kept as pets. I don't have a giant collection (about 45 terrariums), but have produced hundreds of frogs (mainly D. leucomelas and D. t. azureus) that have been re-sold by several large dart frog dealers. When a newcomer to the hobby is looking around on Kingsnake.com or other such sites, having captive born frogs on offer can counter those unscrupulus importers offering cheap O. pumilios that were taken from the wild. These wild-collected animals very often are sick and carry into our collections who knows what illnesses.

By having sites such as Dendroboard, we can educate each other on the best methods for captive breeding for the hobby and (I believe) make a contribution to conservation with every froglet we breed.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Another benefit of managing "common" species like dendrobatids in captivity is to provide training to stewards and demonstrate a proof of concept that private hobbyists really can contribute to captive conservation efforts. Right now zoos and professional institutions don't have the capacity to propagate all amphibian species that need captive management for survival. If a program like ASN can demonstrate that private individuals can collaborate in an effective and professional way, it could unlock a huge pool of resources to meet the challenge.
Ron was telling me the other night that its possible for institutions to recruit private breeders to participate in in situ or ex situ breeding projects.

While I understand that chytrid and possible ranaviruses could be a threat, I'm not understanding why captive animals-- if the locale and other information is present-- could be released back into the wild since reintroduction has been successful with a number of species like condors and Arabian oryxs.

Spix's macaw may be gone from the wild and from most captive aviculture collections, but recent news showed that about 60-70 animals are present in a private collection close to Saudia Arabia.
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Old 11-20-2009, 03:45 PM
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(Richards post)


Ok.....this is a great example of hobbyist's "doing what they can" and promoting ethics in the hobby which in turn leads to a type of conservation effort.

That may not be everyone's textbook definition of conservation, and it's certainly not of immediate impact and primary focus of wild populations, taxa managment or land development.....but please don't say it's nothing.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:11 PM
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Ron was telling me the other night that its possible for institutions to recruit private breeders to participate in in situ or ex situ breeding projects.

While I understand that chytrid and possible ranaviruses could be a threat, I'm not understanding why captive animals-- if the locale and other information is present-- could be released back into the wild since reintroduction has been successful with a number of species like condors and Arabian oryxs.

Spix's macaw may be gone from the wild and from most captive aviculture collections, but recent news showed that about 60-70 animals are present in a private collection close to Saudia Arabia.
Condors are not a real success story as of yet.. if the program wasn't still being supported by released animals (see Science Blog -- 07.25.00 - Faulty practices threaten success of California condor program, says new report)..they would have gone totally extinct in the wild....

The problem is that we are finding out the hard way that unless one can ensure true biosecurity of the captive animals (including food animals), the risk of release is a real problem as we have seen major losses in reptile and amphibian populations from released animals (such as mycoplasma in Gopherus and Terrapene). As a further complication the use of domestic feeder insects can also present a problem as we now know that viruses in the iridoviridae group can jump from at least reptiles to insects and vice versa. So there is a risk in using feeders that have not been reared in a biosecure situtation that are from the same zoogeographic region (see Experimental infection of crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) with an invertebrate iridovirus isolated from a high-casqued chameleon (Chamaeleo hoehnelii) -- Weinmann et al. 19 (6): 674 -- Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation).
Any amphibians that have been imported through the pet trade are going to have been exposed to animals that were not from the same strict zoogeographich region which is going to increase the risk of cross infection with novel pathogens and parasites.

As a further complication, simply keeping the animals in thier own room by the private individual is not a sufficient biosecure situation as invertebrates (like flies and spiders) as well as air can act as vectors that can tranfer pathogens and/or parasites not only from animals that are also housed in the private collection but from the outside... so the average person would need to significantly change thier collection as well as thier husbandry methods before they could handle animals that could start to be able for reintroduction..

Ed
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:22 PM
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In most cases, conservation in this hobby is more about doing your best with what's already here.
Just worth having this statement posted again as it cannot be emphasized enough.

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Ron was telling me the other night that its possible for institutions to recruit private breeders to participate in in situ or ex situ breeding projects.
I should reiterate that when this is the case for projects regarding release of animals back into the wild, those programs take place within the species' native range, such as this project in my state of Washington where inmates are working with zoos in a project to help bolster native populations of Oregon spotted frogs: Local News | Researchers stunned by inmates' success raising endangered frogs | Seattle Times Newspaper

Ed can correct me if I'm wrong, but I am not aware of any institution working with a private individual with a non-native species that they plan on using for repatriation. Any non-native species they are working with will be kept in captivity indefinitely.

As a more concrete example, the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC) wasn't allowed to import crickets or feeder insects of any kind into Panama specifically because of the reasons Ed just mentioned above, so they were forced to collect native insects, including a native species of cricket that they have successfully managed to breed and cultivate for feeding.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:36 PM
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]

Ed can correct me if I'm wrong, but I am not aware of any institution working with a private individual with a non-native species that they plan on using for repatriation. Any non-native species they are working with will be kept in captivity indefinitely.
That is correct.. The problem is due to the biosecurity issues.

Ed
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:48 PM
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.... In most cases, conservation in this hobby is more about doing your best with what's already here. ...
What are some of the most basic ways a hobbyist can do this.
Say for what ever reason they don't want to join any of the organizations like TWI.

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That may not be everyone's textbook definition of conservation, and it's certainly not of immediate impact and primary focus of wild populations, taxa managment or land development.....but please don't say it's nothing.
I don't think anyone is saying its nothing, just reminding everyone that there are lots of other things they can do to help that they might not be aware of.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:12 PM
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I think you're right that restoration ecology is rooted in the field of conservation and in many ways the goals are the same. I also think that restoration ecology has emerged as a field in itself, which involves a different mindset from a more classical conservation approach. There's an interesting review from 2000 by Truman Young in Biological Conservation that presents some ideas on where restoration fits in conservation.
I knew you were probably talking about the maturing field of restoration ecology. It's a little complicated because ecology is a broad science, probably the broadest in existence, and has both a basic science and applied aspect to it. And yes, restoration ecology is not particularly new, but it is really blossoming and is very much an applied sub discipline. And pretty much anything that is from the 'applied' side of ecology becomes part of the toolkit for what we call conservation. But ecology itself is a massive beast that includes pretty much all biotic and abiotic sciences plus the social sciences when you get into the applied side of things.

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With regards to biodiversity I was thinking about Tilman's 'extinction debt' as it could apply large scale. Essentially, the concept that there's a lag time between habitat disturbance and corresponding species loss, and we have built up an extinction debt that will be paid over time even if no further perturbations were to occur. It's not a new idea but I'm under the impression that it's still at least a consideration. To your knowledge has that concept been largely rejected?
I'll confess that I haven't followed this topic as much as I did Tilman's diversity/stability work. But I think it is fair to say that extinction lags are real. When you alter a system, the species community doesn't change all at once. So species losses and gains occur over some time period. There was a short paper in Frontiers in Ecology a few years ago that looked at species recovery in ancient (500 year old and less if I remember right) clearcut forests in Europe. They found that even after centuries of natural recovery there was still a signature of species loss. Not surprisingly, those clear cuts that were small or were short distances from intact forests that could provide sources for species recolonization had recovered more fully than those that were more spatially isolated from source populations. So there is also a recovery lag. However, I'm not aware that this concept has been scaled up to the level of global biodiversity. I think the assumption in the conservation community today is that if we could miraculously stop loss today and allow natural recovery of degraded habitats to occur, we'd be in fairly decent shape with respect to at least maintaining representation of biodiversity. However, I'm not a big fan of simply counting species, I think we need to be thinking more in terms of maximizing the area of the earth that provides ecosystem services.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:20 PM
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A few very basic examples of how everyday hobbyists can assist conservation efforts that I have seen over the last few years.

A couple different regional groups held meetings and either sold or auctioned off small items with the proceeds directed towards conservation. Some people donated froglets, others clippings, whatever they could come up with. While many of us may not have the ability to write a check, the donation of plant clippings, spare driftwood etc can all add up.

When possible attend shows like NAAC, Microcosm etc. The entry fee and support of the shows, auctions etc. is what allows these events to happen.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:27 PM
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On several occassions I have setup a 20g tank, placed several species of frogs in it, and have taken it to my daughters school for show and tell. I answered the basic questions that 1st graders would ask. This may not have any monitary impact but a possible spark of curiosity.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:28 PM
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I agree with Mike here. I feel very strongly that we should discourage the continued taking of dart frogs from the wild just to be kept as pets.
I would put some qualifications around this. One of the best ways to conserve something is to makes its conservation economically attractive. A lot of money gets spent on frogs as pets and I think we should remain open to the idea that money for carefully managed and sustainably harvested... let me repeat that, carefully managed and sustainably harvested, frogs could provide economic incentives for protecting and conserving wild frogs and their habitat, or could flow into conservation efforts that provide a net gain for wild amphibian conservation. I think we have a few models for the latter but still have a long way to go for the former. I'm not happy with 'business as usual' which is where I assume discouraging continued collection from the wild is aimed. But I'm open to any tools that ultimately result in improved conservation of wildlife habitat.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:29 PM
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I should reiterate that when this is the case for projects regarding release of animals back into the wild, those programs take place within the species' native range, such as this project in my state of Washington where inmates are working with zoos in a project to help bolster native populations of Oregon spotted frogs: Local News | Researchers stunned by inmates' success raising endangered frogs | Seattle Times Newspaper

Ed can correct me if I'm wrong, but I am not aware of any institution working with a private individual with a non-native species that they plan on using for repatriation. Any non-native species they are working with will be kept in captivity indefinitely.

Ron, that's what I was referring to-- the native range. Meaning, could advanced keepers be recruited? I wasn't referring to institutions hiring people to breed animals outside the native range. I was referring to keepers being recruited to areas where there are conservation projects. For example, if lets say, Operation Ecuadorian Atelopus needed needed advanced keepers to help breed frogs for reintroduction. I still remember the sucessful donations of money / aquarium equipment sent to Justin Yeager's professor that took place on this board.

Remember, we were talking about that "secret" project that was being developed for a certain group of frogs from a former hobbyist.

Quote:
A lot of money gets spent on frogs as pets and I think we should remain open to the idea that money for carefully managed and sustainably harvested... let me repeat that, carefully managed and sustainably harvested, frogs could provide economic incentives for protecting and conserving wild frogs and their habitat, or could flow into conservation efforts that provide a net gain for wild amphibian conservation.
Wasn't Sean Stewart working on a project years ago to have sustainable collecting of dart frogs?
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:29 PM
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On several occassions I have setup a 20g tank, placed several species of frogs in it, and have taken it to my daughters school for show and tell. I answered the basic questions that 1st graders would ask. This may not have any monitary impact but a possible spark of curiosity.
I think it has a lot of impact.

The next generation...
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:15 PM
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A few very basic examples of how everyday hobbyists can assist conservation efforts that I have seen over the last few years.

A couple different regional groups held meetings and either sold or auctioned off small items with the proceeds directed towards conservation. Some people donated froglets, others clippings, whatever they could come up with. While many of us may not have the ability to write a check, the donation of plant clippings, spare driftwood etc can all add up.

When possible attend shows like NAAC, Microcosm etc. The entry fee and support of the shows, auctions etc. is what allows these events to happen.
Marty, I totally agree. If those of us producing/selling froglets were to establish a clear benchmark (say, a self-imposed tax) on any frogs which we sell, and that would be directed toward conservation efforts that sustain those populations, would that not be a substantial factor is how we can contribute to conservation efforts? Honestly, I've been thinking of allocating a third of any funds I receive from breeding Mantellas toward conservation programs targeted at Madagascar.

This would build on conservation efforts by generating available income both at the initial point of sale (for example, when Mark/UE sells frogs to us) and subsequently when we then sell our offspring to other folks. Maybe folks could even post how much and to what organization their funds were directed. This would allow for us to cover some costs while also paying back.

That said, i understand that this model wouldn't work for those in the hobby to make profit, but for those of us in the hobby because we just love it, this would allow for the recovery of some overhead costs (ffs, supplies, etc) while also allowing us to actually walk the walk of conservation.
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:23 PM
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Ron, that's what I was referring to-- the native range. Meaning, could advanced keepers be recruited? I wasn't referring to institutions hiring people to breed animals outside the native range. I was referring to keepers being recruited to areas where there are conservation projects. For example, if lets say, Operation Ecuadorian Atelopus needed needed advanced keepers to help breed frogs for reintroduction. I still remember the sucessful donations of money / aquarium equipment sent to Justin Yeager's professor that took place on this board.
Some clarification..

The materials weren't sent to Justin's Professor as Justin wasn't a student of Dr. Coloma but was down there working on his own project in conjuction with Dr. Coloma and some of his students.


The only way "advanced" hobbyists could be recruited to work on a project in another country as breeders for release would be for those people to move to that region of that country and work totally in-situ.. which would involve politics as well as some other issues as that countries goverment may not welcome non-locals....

With respect to local species.. this would be species that are locally native to where the hobbyist lives and would still involve those biosecure issues I mentioned above...

Ed
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:30 PM
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I think it has a lot of impact.
Yes and no... it gets the kids initially interested but without any further encouragement the interest goes away.. and the connection is usually lost. Continued exposure over time is what is needed as a once a year experience while having a short term impact does little in the long run unless there is someway the connection can be continued...
This is something that conservation organization have learned the hard way as well..

Ed
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:23 PM
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Some clarification..

The materials weren't sent to Justin's Professor as Justin wasn't a student of Dr. Coloma but was down there working on his own project in conjuction with Dr. Coloma and some of his students.


The only way "advanced" hobbyists could be recruited to work on a project in another country as breeders for release would be for those people to move to that region of that country and work totally in-situ.. which would involve politics as well as some other issues as that countries goverment may not welcome non-locals....

With respect to local species.. this would be species that are locally native to where the hobbyist lives and would still involve those biosecure issues I mentioned above...

Ed
What happened to Justin's website? The front page had contestants for Miss Peru, I believe....
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:34 PM
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I would put some qualifications around this. One of the best ways to conserve something is to makes its conservation economically attractive. A lot of money gets spent on frogs as pets and I think we should remain open to the idea that money for carefully managed and sustainably harvested... let me repeat that, carefully managed and sustainably harvested, frogs could provide economic incentives for protecting and conserving wild frogs and their habitat, or could flow into conservation efforts that provide a net gain for wild amphibian conservation. I think we have a few models for the latter but still have a long way to go for the former. I'm not happy with 'business as usual' which is where I assume discouraging continued collection from the wild is aimed. But I'm open to any tools that ultimately result in improved conservation of wildlife habitat.
Great post !....where's the rep button?

Not all importers are unscrupulous. There are 3 that I can think of that are "trying to do better" and trying to do the right thing. In order to improve in this catagory.....the good ones need to be singled out and the reverse - the horrid ones need to be outed.

There are some importers going to great lengths to quarantine their animals, seperate them in single animal enclosures, different rooms, medicate and pre-treat them.

Then there are some importers who pay campesinos to cut down trees and ravage habitat, warehousing all the animals in one medium sized enclosure, all together where they suffer and tox each other out.

Just like the retail "pet" stores. Some are well run, clean and noteworthy while others need to be shut down.
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:42 PM
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Yes and no... it gets the kids initially interested but without any further encouragement the interest goes away.. and the connection is usually lost. Continued exposure over time is what is needed as a once a year experience while having a short term impact does little in the long run unless there is someway the connection can be continued...
This is something that conservation organization have learned the hard way as well..

Ed
Not really any different then a trip to the zoo. The kids that were in her kindergarten class remembered over a year later and one kid had talked her parents into a green tree frog.
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:57 PM
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What happened to Justin's website? The front page had contestants for Miss Peru, I believe....
OA was an educational program started in partnership with TWI and is currently on hold while Justin works on graduate studies. However, the Operation Atelopus DVD is still in production and will hopefully be fully edited, produced and ready for release in the somewhat near future (hopefully by the time Microcosm rolls around).

Quote:
Not all importers are unscrupulous. There are 3 that I can think of that are "trying to do better" and trying to do the right thing. In order to improve in this catagory.....the good ones need to be singled out and the reverse - the horrid ones need to be outed.
And the power for change here lies in the hands of hobbyists/consumers--fingers can be pointed all they want, but there are currently no consequences for those "unscrupulous" importers (e.g. people complain and then still purchase animals from them). Unless the hobbyists take a stand and choose to only support more ethical and sustainable forms of collection/importation, there is no reason to believe that anything will change with the way they system operates. The opportunity for change really lies in the hands of the hobbyists and our willingness to participate in the system/hobby in a way that rewards and promotes more sustainable methods and refrains from supporting those avenues that don't.
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:14 PM
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Not really any different then a trip to the zoo. The kids that were in her kindergarten class remembered over a year later and one kid had talked her parents into a green tree frog.
If the kids only go through one trip to the zoo in thier career..then yes it isn't any different but many schools not only have trips every year they organize educational programs in conjuction with the trip.
A better impact would be to offer to do the talk for multiple classes/grades as well as repeating it every year as possible. Alternatively, one could contact the school and see if they would be interested in participating with a OFP project or field trips where the kids can see frogs in the wild, catch tadpoles, write down what they see and possibly do some citizen science like water tests...

Ed
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:23 PM
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If the kids only go through one trip to the zoo in thier career..then yes it isn't any different but many schools not only have trips every year they organize educational programs in conjuction with the trip.
A better impact would be to offer to do the talk for multiple classes/grades as well as repeating it every year as possible. Alternatively, one could contact the school and see if they would be interested in participating with a OFP project or field trips where the kids can see frogs in the wild, catch tadpoles, write down what they see and possibly do some citizen science like water tests...

Ed
Those are excellent suggestions. I also still have my old setup that I may just go ahead and donate to the class. Then they can see them everyday.
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