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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I am looking into getting imitator Varaderos for my first tank. I would eventually like to breed them. So I am planning on purchasing 3 to have a higher chance at a pair and then separating the extra frog.

It was brought to my attention that inbreeding is something to consider. So I decided it might be best to purchase each frog from a different breeder to reduce the risk of inbreeding when I get a pair.

I did some research and it was mixed as to whether inbreeding will have a big impact if it is only one generation. What would you all do?

If I was to purchase each frog from a different source. Would it be necessary to quarantine the frogs before adding them to the enclosure?

Thanks,
Ricky
 

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Don't worry about in breeding. Yeah, if were in the business of producing frogs, I would do my best to source unrelated animals. But, as a hobbyist you would be better served spending that extra $150 you saved on shipping from 3 different sources and buy a bigger enclosure or in some way improving the frog's habitat.

Inbreeding not so much of an issue in lower animals.
 

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$150 to never have to think about or tell others that these monogamous frogs you love are actually brother/sister husband and wife... I think that's worth it.
 

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people give out this advice to make themselves feel good about saving on shipping costs. but even if there is some truth to this advice, if the parents are related (which is often the case) this could be a bunch of inbreeding generations in a row.
 

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people give out this advice to make themselves feel good about saving on shipping costs. but even if there is some truth to this advice, if the parents are related (which is often the case) this could be a bunch of inbreeding generations in a row.
I think people give out this advice based on experience. Likely what you think is two separate lines of frogs are probably all from the same import, especially when we are looking at Ranitomeya in the U.S. and Canada.

I also think the idea of these frogs being monogamous is/has been overly hyped and glorified. They are monogamous for a clutch/breeding cycle for the purpose of jointly raising the tadpoles, not for life.
 

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^even more reason to avoid inbreeding. If your genetic pool is small then you should do as much as possible to maximize diversity.

@Imatreewaterme inbreeding is common in the hobby and you won't be shamed if you do it but "the way it's always been done" is just something we tell ourselves to justify behavior.

We could do what's easy or we could do better
 

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^even more reason to avoid inbreeding. If your genetic pool is small then you should do as much as possible to maximize diversity.

@Imatreewaterme inbreeding is common in the hobby and you won't be shamed if you do it but "the way it's always been done" is just something we tell ourselves to justify behavior.

We could do what's easy or we could do better
I'm still not following your comment on "...something we tell ourselves to justify behavior."

Is there evidence that inbreeding these, at a hobbyist level, has caused any issues, or are you just assuming that they exist? Obviously, the more genetic diversity there is, the better, but in this scenario you make it seem like we are making up facts to cover up for mass in-breeding that is causing some sort of impactful negative in the hobby.

If you want to "do better", then stop encouraging people to buy a more diverse bloodline of frogs, as this would invariably lead to the demand for frogs from the wild.
 

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I haven't heard of inbreeding being an issue significant enough to put time into over other aspects of husbandry. I've certainly thought about it, sometimes obsessively, but evidence of serious issues hasn't presented itself. Maybe one day it will.

When I purchase a colony of leucs, I will obtain them from a few different sources for no other reason than it helps me sleep better, but I acknowledge it isn't based in solid evidence.

I would say there isn't sufficient evidence either way (maybe someone knows of some papers to post here that do shed some light, I bet Ed knows). As a result, my recommendation is to choose what helps you sleep at night, accept you may be wrong and others right, and enjoy your frogs.
 

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I'm still not following your comment on "...something we tell ourselves to justify behavior."

Is there evidence that inbreeding these, at a hobbyist level, has caused any issues, or are you just assuming that they exist? Obviously, the more genetic diversity there is, the better, but in this scenario you make it seem like we are making up facts to cover up for mass in-breeding that is causing some sort of impactful negative in the hobby.

If you want to "do better", then stop encouraging people to buy a more diverse bloodline of frogs, as this would invariably lead to the demand for frogs from the wild.


I believe many people for various reasons just go along with the idea that inbreeding is fine in dart frog populations. One of them indeed being just trying to save money on shipping, others if not about money just to avoid the hassle of the legwork required to find unrelated lines, and then lastly are the people who genuinely believe it is not harmful. The op never mentioned any monetary concern with sourcing the different lines and yet somehow that came up as a concern from people defending the practice of inbreeding. Sounds exactly like what LinconB was trying to say.

Ed has mentioned many many times on this board that inbreeding depression is a real consequence of inbreeding of dartfrogs which may not show itself directly since the frogs are setup in pristine environments. Even if invisible there is certainly loss of genetic diversity, which is just passing on the problem to future froggers.

There are cases of this being directly supported as well in some species in our hobby. Take Lorenzos for example a very heavily inbreed morph in the North American hobby. I know of a case where a hobbyist lost two unrelated females and had a necropsy done and the pathologist came to the conclusion that the frogs suffered from a compromised immune system likely due to lack of genetic diversity in the founding stock.

I am not sure how you can say that it's obvious to have more genetic diversity and then immediately chastise someone for encouraging the practice of finding unrelated lines. Unrelated lines does not automatically mean imports as there are unrelated lines for many of the morphs out there, it just requires a lot more work and yes shipping costs than many people want to put into it.

Also I see comments suggesting that somehow the husbandry effort is an either or situation there is no reason a person can't find unrelated lines while also providing a proper setup.
 

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The op never mentioned any monetary concern with sourcing the different lines and yet somehow that came up as a concern from people defending the practice of inbreeding.
No. I mentioned money, suggesting that the money saved on shipping from multiple sources would be better spent improving the frog's habitat. Like buying a bigger enclosure. And I stand behind that. You can do both. But, if I had to choose I would go with a better environment for the frogs.
 

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Ed has mentioned many many times on this board that inbreeding depression is a real consequence of inbreeding of dartfrogs which may not show itself directly since the frogs are setup in pristine environments. Even if invisible there is certainly loss of genetic diversity, which is just passing on the problem to future froggers.
It's a frustrating topic for me because there really isn't one simple answer, partly due to the way genetics in frog populations work (look up outbreeding depression), but also due to the nature of the hobby:
  • Paucity of information on legacy stock.
  • Poor record keeping for newer stock.
  • Lack of tracking for all stock. This is -- practically speaking -- nearly impossible.
The population of domestically bred, hobby frogs are a genetic dead-end and ecologically speaking, non-existent. They have no value to conservation other than creating awareness and reducing pressure on wild populations, and perhaps raising funds if purchased through bio-commerce channels.

But what Ed pointed out numerous times (and I do tend to give his information weight because it generally comes with citations and a great deal of experience behind it) was that inbreeding depression can affect reptiles and amphibians and the studies are there to look up. Physical deformities and window licking frogs aren't the main issue, fertility issues will show first, and loss of diversity of major histocompatability complex genes can leave entire populations extremely vulnerable to novel pathogens.

On the one hand many populations of captive dart frogs are likely to be bred for many, many generations with no issues from a hobbyist perspective, which many people a lot better versed than me will tell you with confidence.

But due to a lack of population management, for some of them at least -- it seems to me self-evident that their time in the hobby is limited, even if it's 20, 30, 40 years from now.

Which begs the question, does it even matter when our priority should be preserving habitat and addressing global anthropogenic effects that threaten the existence of these species in situ?

It's kind of a downer conclusion but if we don't look at the big picture it's just not gonna matter if these frogs are viable home entertainment in 20 years.

I'm excited for bio-commerce as one small, good thing amongst many such initiatives and I hope it gains traction in the coming decade. WIKIRI and Tesoros frogs may seem like expensive luxuries to many hobbyists but in a concrete sense they're the real bridge between our fascination with these animals and their ultimate fate; even if I don't wind up with many of their frogs I think it's important to support them any way we can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for your responses, I am seeing a lot of very good points here. It appears that the main thing is that it doesn't hurt and is likely beneficial to try to find an unrelated pair, but it will cost more on shipping. I am not too concerned on the additional cost. I have already spent an excessive amount on this tank due to things I thought I needed, but I did not (oops). One thing I am concerned about however is whether or not I will need to quarantine the frogs if they are purchased from different sources. I do not have any other animals, and I do not have a quarantine tank setup at the moment.

Nonetheless, I have still not decided which route I will go. This is mainly because I am unaware of how many different sources of imitator Varaderos there are. I am aware of the Understory Enterprises line, but is there actually another source line available in the United States? If I do purchase from different sources and all the source frogs are actually from the UE line, will it make any difference?

Fahad has made the point as to that it may just be more important to preserve the species in the wild. For example if I was to take the money I would spend on shipping and donate it to a foundation whose purpose is to preserve the habitat of these amazing animals (any suggestions in this regard are welcomed).
 

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I am not sure how you can say that it's obvious to have more genetic diversity and then immediately chastise someone for encouraging the practice of finding unrelated lines. Unrelated lines does not automatically mean imports as there are unrelated lines for many of the morphs out there, it just requires a lot more work and yes shipping costs than many people want to put into it.
Because for a general hobbyist, it won't ever show and it won't ever matter. Let me be clear though: For a breeder, it would be important. This thread is not about that though.

Show me the different legal lines of R. imitator 'Varadero". There is one that I know of, Understory Enterprises.

It isn't helpful to anyone to tell new hobbyists to source genetically different frogs, because:

A) It is often impossible. In this specific circumstance, the original breeding stock of LEGAL R. imitator "Varadero" is all derived from, I think, 6-8 frogs.
B) It doesn't matter. It has no noticeable impact in one or two generations for a hobbyist.
C) The suggestion that monogamy is a specific reason to source these frogs from different backgrounds is absurd and just shows a lack of experience and understanding of R. imitator.
D) The implication that I respond the way I do to make myself feel better or save on shipping costs is a huge generalization and quite frankly, a little bit insulting.
E) If there is pressure on hobbyists to source genetically diverse frogs, there will inevitably be demand for more wild caught frogs and imports. In addition, hobbyists may then also start to mix different locales to try to achieve genetic diversity, such as mixing Varadero & Jerberos together. This could potentially lead to issues with outbreeding depression and the loss of locale specific lineage on some of these frogs.
 

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It was brought to my attention that inbreeding is something to consider. So I decided it might be best to purchase each frog from a different breeder to reduce the risk of inbreeding when I get a pair.

I did some research and it was mixed as to whether inbreeding will have a big impact if it is only one generation. What would you all do?
You have legitimate concerns. It would indeed be best to purchase animals from different breeders to maximize diversity.

Don't worry about in breeding. Yeah, if were in the business of producing frogs, I would do my best to source unrelated animals. But, as a hobbyist you would be better served spending that extra $150 you saved on shipping from 3 different sources and buy a bigger enclosure or in some way improving the frog's habitat.

Inbreeding not so much of an issue in lower animals.
This is quite honestly one of the least educated pieces of advice I have ever seen given out on Dendroboard. Let's compare a lot of statements on inbreeding to this:
Most people: "Inbreeding won't be noticed for several generations. It is not a concern"...
A similar statement for comparison: "Sure, let's pillage the rainforest to extract all of the resources we can. Then we can benefit and live our comfy lives in the moment...."
Meanwhile no thought is given to the future.

people give out this advice to make themselves feel good about saving on shipping costs. but even if there is some truth to this advice, if the parents are related (which is often the case) this could be a bunch of inbreeding generations in a row.
Exactly. There is a chronic problem in the hobby where people purchase a group of 3 or 4 animals from one breeder, raise up and separate out a pair, and sell the extra individuals. Then the next person wanting the offspring do the same and so on. This is so common that I hardly see ever see people stray from this strategy. What people really need to be doing is purchase 2 animals from one breeder and 2 animals from a second breeder. This will maximize the diversity of each generation even if they are technically still related in some way. Breeding cousins together would be way better than breeding direct siblings.

^even more reason to avoid inbreeding. If your genetic pool is small then you should do as much as possible to maximize diversity.

@Imatreewaterme inbreeding is common in the hobby and you won't be shamed if you do it but "the way it's always been done" is just something we tell ourselves to justify behavior.

We could do what's easy or we could do better
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. If you truly care about these animals in captivity, and they aren't just a novelty you won't care about anymore in 3 years (or less) when you exit the hobby, you wouldn't do what's easy, you would do what's best.

I haven't heard of inbreeding being an issue significant enough to put time into over other aspects of husbandry. I've certainly thought about it, sometimes obsessively, but evidence of serious issues hasn't presented itself. Maybe one day it will.

When I purchase a colony of leucs, I will obtain them from a few different sources for no other reason than it helps me sleep better, but I acknowledge it isn't based in solid evidence.

I would say there isn't sufficient evidence either way (maybe someone knows of some papers to post here that do shed some light, I bet Ed knows). As a result, my recommendation is to choose what helps you sleep at night, accept you may be wrong and others right, and enjoy your frogs.
How can you not have heard about inbreeding being a significant issue? If it was never an issue of concern, why would zoos and conservation groups go to such great lengths to maintain a studbook and send animals with high "genetic value" to be bred with various particular individuals? Clearly, most hobbyists couldn't care less. And for that reason, I would compare these hobbyists who "need to see very particular studies" to the people who are pillaging the natural resources because there isn't cause for concern yet.

What happens when that magical generation has been met where inbreeding is legitimately noticed if no one cared up until that point? By then a majority of the animals in the hobby would then be siblings because no one cared. Only offspring from the few hobbyists that stayed around long enough would be left. What would you do then? Nobody maintained much diversity so there wouldn't be anything to outcross to. Even if a small part of you believed that inbreeding depression was possible, the aforementioned scenario should be of great concern. And honestly this would be so simple to prevent if you just spent an extra $50 or $60 to split a purchase among different breeders. If you refuse to pay that you are just cheap or broke. And if you're broke, you shouldn't be purchasing these animals anyway.

On the topic of this "magical generation", that concept is such rubbish. There is no magical generation. I have seen such statements as "Inbreeding won't be seen until around the 7th generation". Inbreeding is so common, how many people would actually know what generation they would even be on if the only lineage info they have is the name of the breeder? (not true lineage info by the way). Inbreeding depression can be seen in as little as 2 generations. Each generation is another spin of the genetic dice. It is a lottery. You might get lucky and not see it, or it could be much worse right off the bat. There could be legitimate issues lurking in the heterozygous state, but constant outcrossing minimizes the chances of the genetic defect being expressed.

Most people in other animal hobbies follow-up with the owners of the offspring they have sold to see how they are doing. By seeing what issues the offspring are facing, you can make better judgments on the pairings you make. Good dog breeders do this all the time so that they can eliminate health issues (for obvious reasons). How many people in the hobby are following up with their customers to see what is going on with the offspring? Practically no one. A majority end up in the hands of relatively inexperienced people or newbies who wouldn't have a clue why their animal died and would just assume it was because they messed up.
 

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The majority of frogs are sold by breeders, and these breeders should try to keep good lineage and minimize inbreeding.

A hobbyist should have no concern buying frogs from a good breeder and should have no worry about seeing any negative effects in the course of 2-3 generations of these frogs. If there is evidence to the contrary for Ranitomeya, please share it. Dogs and frogs are very different in regards to the impacts of inbreeding, it is doubtful this is a good comparison by any means.
 

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The majority of frogs are sold by breeders, and these breeders should try to keep good lineage and minimize inbreeding.
FALSE
Anyone ever who breeds their animals and disperses the offspring to fellow hobbyists should try to minimize inbreeding. What happens if one of these customers becomes the next big breeder that a majority of hobbyists will source their animals from in the future? You're right, I already know. They won't care either way. They will still breed siblings.

A hobbyist should have no concern buying frogs from a good breeder and should have no worry about seeing any negative effects in the course of 2-3 generations of these frogs.
FALSE
A hobbyist should have concerns about buying frogs from any breeder. A hobbyist should absolutely worry about the negative effects in the course of 2-3 generations.

I'll say it again, most people do not know a single thing about what lineages they have. Generally, they have no clue whether they have an F1 or an F20 in the majority of cases. And the chronic problem of breeding siblings may mean that your F4 animal (sounds harmless) has a Coefficient of Inbreeding of 50%. This is worse than breeding siblings together, this is breeding siblings together for 3 generations. This is outrageous. And it only proceeds to get worse when someone like you thinks that frogs are magic and immune to things that affect all other vertebrates, just because they are a different species.

So I will ask this: What makes frogs so different that genetics would apply any differently?
Why did conservationists bother collecting the last population of Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki)? If there were already plenty in captivity, what was the point of collecting them?
See my next comment...

If there is evidence to the contrary for Ranitomeya, please share it. Dogs and frogs are very different in regards to the impacts of inbreeding, it is doubtful this is a good comparison by any means.
FALSE
It is 100% positive that comparing frogs and dogs is a perfect comparison. For one, both species are diploid organisms. This is exactly why I said there really does not need to be any studies specifically for our frogs to prove it. I could reference any number of rat studies to illustrate my point and it would all apply the same.

All vertebrates have two sets of chromosomes (diploid) therefore Mendelian genetics applies in the same exact way. Unless they are parthenogenic, frogs get one set of their genes from their father and the other set from their mother. When the father and the mother are related, you get an increased rate of homozygosity when evaluated as a ratio of genes with identical alleles to genes with dissimilar alleles. Unless we are talking about a plant with 4 or 6 sets of chromosomes, dogs are frogs are exactly the same in regards to the impacts of inbreeding.

Even if you feel like inbreeding isn't a problem, you cannot deny the facts of Mendelian inheritance. And to add to that, what happens when an entire population is highly genetically similar? And what happens when just one of those animals is highly susceptible to a particular pathogen? In that situation, the entire population instantly becomes highly susceptible as well because of the high degree of genetic similarity. If you choose to ignore the possibility of genetic diseases lurking in the DNA of captive frogs, you should not ignore the possibility of a rogue virus wiping out the entire population.

It is for both these reasons that inbreeding is a concern for conservationists. I can't see why there is absolute disregard for a subject of such magnitude that it has repeatedly lead to the extinction of species.
 

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How can you not have heard about inbreeding being a significant issue? If it was never an issue of concern, why would zoos and conservation groups go to such great lengths to maintain a studbook and send animals with high "genetic value" to be bred with various particular individuals? Clearly, most hobbyists couldn't care less. And for that reason, I would compare these hobbyists who "need to see very particular studies" to the people who are pillaging the natural resources because there isn't cause for concern yet.
A couple points and then I'll call it a day on this thread as I don't see productive information being exchanged.

All assumptions without direct evidence have some level of risk no matter how well intentioned. The less direct evidence, the greater the risk of the assumption.

The assumption that inbreeding affects all animal species identically (or virtually identically) is very high risk in my opinion. It's a very broad statement, and broad statements have a tendency to fail the test of time in science. I'm not aware of significant issues from inbreeding in the frog hobby. Though line breeding I suspect would produce issues as is seen in reptiles, which is why it is seriously frowned upon. This forum, which is filled with professionals that frequently review this sort of research have not presented any that I'm aware of. I certainly could be wrong. I'm open to it. I've haven't searched extensively here. I lean towards caution when it comes to inbreeding, so having hard evidence that it is an issue isn't going to change my strategy.

You mention pillaging natural resources. I have an interesting anecdote about the unintended consequences of making broad assumptions about good vs bad instead of critically approaching a problem. One of my friends was forced from his village in the Amazon due to skyrocketing poverty, crime, and hopelessness as a child because someone hundreds of miles away said no one could log trees, essentially their only source of income. This anecdote is not about whether or not logging was wrong or right, it's about unintended consequences.

If the assumptions are sufficiently incorrect, the unintended consequences can be worse than what one was trying to avoid. Again, I'm not making a statement that the death of the village was better or worse than the logging. I'm just pointing out the logical conclusions that can be drawn from it.

If someone can present some hard evidence here in amphibians, I'll be happy to join the discussion again. Until then, be kind to each other.
 

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@Tinc Tank : The purpose of this thread is not for conservation, it is for a simple question from a new hobbyist. It is of my opinion that it is perfectly acceptable to not have inbreeding be a major concern for a pair or trio of frogs. It has nothing to do with saving money, it has everything to do with my experience.

If you want to breed them on a larger scale, I would suggest trying to source from as genetically diverse populations as are available in the hobby, while trying to avoid any overt instances of outbreeding depression as well. With that, I think we both agree.

Nobody is arguing the science behind what happens when animals are inbred - I am just saying there isn't any noticeable effect over many generations (I do not actually know at which generation noticeable impact can be seen in things like reduced offspring health).

And just so we are clear, there is no cut and dry evidence that determines when and where inbreeding is a negative. There are many instances where inbreeding is a very natural occurrence, and has positive impacts on populations, such increasing reproductive success in highly co-operative animals (ie. animals such as Ranitomeya in the vanzolinii group), whereas outbreeding depression can theoretically destroy many positive gene traits that populations of wild animals have - again, a good example may be some of these Dendrobatidae that exist in very isolated and small areas in the wild.

While most wild animals have a natural tendency to have inbreeding avoidance, not all do. Ranitomeya imitator has been shown to have a preference to similar looking frogs - and this would suggest it may select a closely related mate over a distantly related mate based on looks alone. The evolution of the different degrees of mimicry in these animals, and their subsequent isolation from each other, likely helps demonstrate this. Inbreeding theoretically helps these animals develop more precise Mullerian mimicry, and thus actually helps reproductive success. There are other documented cases of high levels of inbreeding in the wild - and many times it is because the search for an unrelated mate leads to a high degree mortality, and thus has negative impact on the population.

The point is - it isn't as black and white as "inbreeding increases homozygosity rates so it is bad". There are certainly well documented negative impacts - but even in the case of captive animals, many are purposefully inbred to not just "line breed", but to remove deleterious alleles through reproductive isolation. Inbreeding can do positive things as well when managed properly.

Lastly, if you think that you are on some sort of different level than the rest of us in regards to your involvement into the hobby, I have news for you: Your frogs will never be anything but novelty pets to both you or others. You are kidding yourself if you think you are on some different plane here, unless you are involved in some conservation breeding project down in Peru I don't know about. The benefits these frogs give is education and awareness to the environmental and poaching plights that they face. You will see time and time again I am very much for the preservation of the species I keep...in the wild. You can surmise all you want about my intentions, but you can't sit here and tell me that I am in this hobby for "only my amusement" and think that somehow that statement doesn't apply directly to you as well.

Further, just to correct a small point that I know way too much about: it isn't accurate to state that all vertebrates have two sets of chromosomes. I catch Ambystoma unisexuals (Unisexual Salamanders) up here all the time - and they can be diploid/triploid/tetraploid +, further these do not adhere to Mendelian Inheritence (which is also true in many other instances, known as Non-Mendelian Inheritance).
 
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