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2881 Views 31 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  andersonii85
How many of us are all that worried about "inbreeding?" I know people who will not buy a group of frogs from the same breeder, because they are so terrified of this.

I want to challenge this. Do people know how small an area that these frogs come from, and inhabit, often for their whole life? Many of them are born, grow up, breed and die of old age within a thirty foot area. Over the course of these animals lifetime, inside an area that small, with the condensed atmosphere of some of these populations, go ahead and try and tell me that there is not a real deep set of inbreeding going on.

Amphibians are pre-keyed for this sort-of thing. They are not as or at all susceptible to this sort of thing I think, and you should not worry about it. I once bred Azureus to ten generations, brother to sister, brother to sister, etc etc etc. Never a problem with sls, (ever) right down to the point I just sold all the frogs and moved on to another project.

I am NOT saying to pollute locality specific bloodlines, in any way. If you have them. Or to worry about them for that matter. But very very fwe breeders have a locality specific bloodline. (To me, a locality specific bloodline means that you have GPS coordinates of the collection site.)

So what are peoples thoughts?
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Mr Buddiharma, you had better do better than that. And adding something that supports your one liner would not be a bad idea either.
I agree with you, animals in the wild will inbreed, from what i have read, it will help bring the localization of frogs consistant. Not sure if tthat is true, but heard it somewhere. I just think if someone is going to inbreed they should do it responsibly and mark wich generation they are, wich blood line and so on, so that it doesnt cause future problems.
Just wondering; how is it acceptable to conclude that these "natural" phenomenons is whats best or reasonable for captive purposes. While you may be right in that they spend their whole lives in a 30 foot area, do you possibly think 10 generations of the same frog will reside in the same 30 feet?

I think you can get away with inbreeding 1 or 2 generations, but 10 isnt acceptable for my taste.

Isn't this a foregone conclusion for most people that work with the rarer morphs? The genetic diversity for these "rare" frogs is extremely limited. At best, we can only preserve this diversity with perfect breeding practices (unless we import more bloodlines), but it seems inevitable that most of our frogs will be sitting next to their water feature playing dueling banjos to their related mate.
Well, I think this is the problem. Captive breeding doesn't exploit inherited weaknessess in individual frogs. The animals don't have to rely on acute senses in order to survive as in the wild: their food is plopped right in front of them everday. "Survival of the fittest" doesn't really apply too heavily in the hobby. In the wild, frogs that can't hack it, really don't stand a chance. If they are carriers of unfit genes, then their offspring stand less of a chance for survival (and ultimately, reproduction). Short tongues and low sperm count are just a couple of examples of traits that won't have much of a bearing on the fitness and inheritance probabilities in the terrarium, whereas in the wild, these traits are selected out.
Therefore, care must be taken to keep our lines diverse. Because, in the wild, the genetic misfortunes mentioned before would be selected out, in the terrarium, these unfavorable traits go farther and farther down the line. With diversification of bloodlines, you don't have as high a risk of a frog inheriting recessive and unfit genes.
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Aww, the wonderful concepts of evolution

Well, I never thought this group would be nipping at the heels of darwins theories of evolution. Randy, as you probably know, you just gave a wonderful explanation of darwins 4th theory, of natural selection. Basically, a species survives, and evolves by adapting to its surroundings. This happens by exactly what you said. An animal with unfavorable traits will more likely die before it can reproduce successfully. Whereas, the frogs with the more desirable traits will survive, to pass on their bloodline and genes. It is also known as adaptation. In addition to your last few lines, I agree totally. The more you inbreed, the more likely recessive genes will show up, since brothers and sisters will more than likely have the same recessive genes. When you put two and two together, it ads up, you know. So, as for inbreeding frogs goes, If you don't have to inbreed them, don't. If you don't have any other way, then it isn't going to hurt them the first few generations. I have read that they can go up to 10 generations without seeing adverse effects. If you want to get into genetics and all, let me know. I am definitely no expert, but I have a book that explains it well.
As for inbreeding in the wild, I know it does happen, but I don't think it happens nearly as often as we might think. This goes back to the same thing as above. If a population of frogs has very few "new" members coming in, and if they are all breeding with the same frogs, generation after generation, this species will most likely develop the horrific traits of inbreeding, and will be unable to survive. If you have too much genetic drift (look it up), the less chance of adaptation for that population. And, since environments are constantly changing, a species will die if it is unable to adapt to the changing environment. Anyway, I might discuss this further later, I just can't think too well right now. I am running on low sleep, and too many mountain dew livewires.
So here is my opinion. Only inbreed if necessary. Sometimes it can bring out desirable traits, however, more often than not, it will bring out more undesirable traits. I feel that it will take more than 1 generation or so to cause defects. I would say atleast 6 generations would be safe. Well, thanks for reading this. sorry for any confusion, like i say, I am rather un alert.

Ed Parker
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hicksonj said:
but it seems inevitable that most of our frogs will be sitting next to their water feature playing dueling banjos to their related mate.
Choosing genetic diversity should ALWAYS be someones first preference when setting up breeding groups/pairs. Unfortunately we do not always have this option or have have knowledge of many species lineage. Some of the rarer Peruvian thumbnails and many Colombian species have only been imported as CB animals from Europe, how many different bloodlines if any of these animals has always been in question. That is one of the reasons the Peruvian project is so important, injecting new blood into current breeding populations insures viable breeding stock of these species for many years. This is certainly my own unscientific theory, but I believe logic and common sense tells us breeding unrelated animals is much healthier than breeding siblings. I don't want to say I do not breed siblings as in some instances this has been my only option and with rarer frogs reproducing them takes precedence over genetic diversity. Some of what you say is true John (look at the Discus breeders out there), but I will always believe genetic diversity is critical to the longevity of some of the animals we are currently working with.
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I'd also like to add that the more genetic variation is obtained, the less chance one single parasite/acctidental infection will wipe out an entire line of frogs.

In other words, the more diverse the genes, the better chances you'll have of some frogs surviving when some wierd illness threatens to wipe out the type of specimen.

Also, I would not go so far as to say that amphibians in general are suited for a small gene pool.
I really cant comment on the scientific aspect of inbreeding with frogs, but for a really good argument, look at pure bred dogs. Some breeds have been inbred so much that they have developed extreem health problems that would cause the animal to die very quickly if not treated by us as caretakers. I have a friend who runs a rescue for pugs (the little runts that look like they took a MAC truck to the face) and she has to clean out all of their ears, eyes and noses on a daily basis because of the shape of their face. if this were not done, they would develop infections in the eyes and ears and possibly strangle on their own mucus cloging the airways. Darwin would have a heart attack if he saw that!
on the flip side, look at Minature Doberman Pinchers. This is a breed of dog that was at one time a huge agressive beast, bred for killing, but from years of selective breeding (and a huge amount of inbreeding) they were able to miniturize this animal down to the size of a small cat. They still have the temperment and look exactly like their "big brothers" but have very few health issues because their smaller size is more suited to the build of the dog. now you dont have to worry about loosing an arm when they get angry, just maybe a button or 2.
So i guess what i am trying to say is that selective breeding (or inbreeding) can have very different results for different species and for use as hobbists it is a poor idea to try this ourselves. i know that most breeders have one or two bloodlines that they use to "mix things up" a bit to prevent unnecessary inbreeding, but others that have used just one pair to breed and prevent the others from breeding any more than F3 or F4. Both are responsible methods for dealing with this problem. However,even though i have heard from other hobbists that you can breed up to the 12th generations with no ill effects, i have yet to hear of anyone (at least that i have talked to) that has inbred that far.
I am sure that darts as a species can tolerate more inbreeding than other species, but i dont have the training or research to make that statement anything other than an opinion. I think that i would rather have fewer healthy frogs (ie not inbred) than more questionably healthy frogs (inbred) and most breeders, despite the demand, agree with this.
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I think if the option is there for a different bloodline, go for it. If not, your frogs will breed just fine and live just as well. Inbreeding is built into the genetics of these animals, and they cannot and should not be compared to dogs, horses, humans and the like. Just a related note, every azureus in the US prior to 1998 was probably an f10 or more.
I just scanned this fast-paced thread at about 900 mph so may have missed many points but I think this issue points to the real need for breeding guidelines. First, I think we have a very poor definition of what a "bloodline" is in the hobby. Second, we can't expect everyone to understand the fine points of genetics so breeding guidelines would help translate that into easily understood rules.

I am not aware of any reason why amphibians would be less prone to the adverse effects of inbreeding but I also think that the dangers of inbreeding are WAY overstated in the hobby. I actually think that "line breeding", which is what produced many of the mutant dog breeds, is actually pretty rare in the hobby. Breeding within bloodlines is not necessarily inbreeding depending on how you define a bloodline. In my opinion, the only definition of blood line that should be used in the hobby is frogs that originate from a freely interbreeding population in the wild. Now how we determine those lines from the information we have about captive stocks is something that needs a lot of discussion.

Also, let's put inbreeding into some context. I think we all agree that narrowing the gene pool in a captive population is not a good idea. But many breeders selectively breeding frogs by pairing the prettiest, or the most similar looking frogs. There are also many invented "morphs" in the hobby that only serve to segregate what should be interbreeding frogs into narrow gene pools. All of these things will narrow the gene pool and increase the level of homozygosity just as fast as line breeding. And another point is that "frogs from the same breeder" is a pretty worthless standard for determining the level of inbreeding. You need to know the composition of the breeding group. For example, suppose you have 1.2 wc breeders. All of the offspring have the same father but half have a different mother. Anyone who can do pundit square can figure out the number of possible genetic combinations this might yield. Now consider if the breeders are 2.2 unrelated parents, and so on. Believe it or not, you CAN get fairly genetically diverse offspring from the same hobbyist breeder.

My impression of the genetics in the hobby right now is that it is a mess and really needs attention. We have frogs that are being interbred that probably shouldn't and we have lots of frogs that are being maintained separately that probably should be mixed together. IMO what we need is to develop a set of guidelines that take into account all of the information we have about a group of frogs to make a decision on what is a "line" and then stick to it. Likely we will make a few mistakes but in the end we should be able to come close enough to maintain wild type lines.

But until such guidelines are developed, what should we do? Well, it's easy to mix genes through breeding but there is no way to unmix them through breeding. Therefore, I believe for now it is safest and most prudent to error on the side of breeding narrowly until we can make a good educated guess about which frogs should be mixed.

Good thread John.
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Here's another problem: breeders (myself included) usually don't breed in groups. It's just not a very common practice among Tinctorius and related species, mostly because of behavioral/territorial issues. Because of this, our frogs are no longer able to select what individual to breed with - mate selection (with an exception of proximity) has gone out the window. This is unfortunate, since mate selection is one of the most important aspects of genetic diversification. I think the very LEAST thing that we breeders can do is keep the lines well-integrated and as diverse as possible.
I agree, this is a very good thread. It's something that needs to be discussed more often. John, I have just one question about something you mentioned in the original post: did you happen to breed brother to sister for 10 generations in a group, or were they paired?
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Ok John,

You're right...I should've written more than that.. so here it is:

In addition to what others have written (which are great), for what it's worth...

If you want to compare the effect of inbreeding, fish and reptiles are closer to the amphibians than dogs or cats...... and they (fish and reptiles) do display the effect of inbreeding...

The effect goes in stages (or per generation), so there won't be a dramatic changes one can see in the next generation, but rather a more subtle. Then, all of a sudden, when you have a highly inbred speciment and compare it to the wild counterpart, you can see differences.

Here are some of the things that can be observed:
- loss their wild colorations
- prone to deseases (ask discus breeders)
- weaker or move slower
- loss some reflexes
- loss their wild instinct (appears to be somewhat "dumber", leopard gecko comes to mind)
- develop a different shape (stout looking azureus comes to mind)

The last one is a good example (for the record I am not talking about John's azureus experiment) because I have observed 3 generations of these stout looking azureus produced by different breeders (people have said that these frogs have short fermurs).

Some have also said that these are husbandry problems. However, if the frogs are producing the same looking offsprings regardless of the breeder who owns them, then something is wrong.

I also have other azureus from Todd Kelley. Now these animals are close to WC (f2 or f3) and they look very similar to tinctorius... no stout looking frogs here. One line that he has, has produced big.. big females.

Indeed that if you have rare species, inbreeding is the only choice. However, there are more ways than inbreeding brother to sister to the f12 for example. There are ways to expand genetic diversity within a line....not as much as unrelated breeding, but better than inbreeding.... I could write more on this... but for now, you can check out this page:

So that's it. Hopefully that helps. :D

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Discus are fish, a little different then amphibians wouldnt you agree? There is much more to individual animals, Discus do not stay within small ranges as many darts do throughout their life. I dont think anyfish do that, as they have to constantly move for food. Also proof that frogs may stay in one place their whole life, is the cubans in my backyard, hatched outof my pond, and havent left yet after 3 years!

In the wild, frogs establish territory... what would happen if say, you release 1000 cubans (close to what happen if you inbreed it many times) in your backyard?? would they stay in the same place?? (they would if you have a closed fence)

Just because people can't find any dart frogs in the surrounding areas, it doesn't mean that there are no dart frogs. It simply mean that they just can't find them.

In the wild they also have predators, especially near high moisture areas where there are lots of frogs, this will reduced the number of natural inbreeding.

I am interested in giving alternatives, not debating my views... (in this case, anyway). Hopefully my previous post help others who haven't made up their mind.

So on that note of alternatives, what do you think can be done? Would a volutary registry of bloodlines work? A sort of AKC of PDFs :) Maybe we can start a new site,
Hey, hicksonj, that is a great idea. Only, for all the frogs out now, unless people kept good records, on who breed what, and got who from where, you know. Other than that, if you can get it worked out, I do like that idea. An AKC of frogs, so what would we call it, Dendro Breeders Club??? the DBC, i like it,

ED Parker
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