CFAES Give Today

School of Environment and Natural Resources


SENR Seminar Series

Feb 26, 2015, 4:00pm - 5:00pm

The SENR Seminar Series welcomes Brian Gratwicke, Research Scientist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Center for Species Survival, who will present Captive Breeding Programs to Mitigate Chytridiomycosis-related Extinctions: Lessons from Panama.

We established the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project in 2008 as a response to the dramatic chytridiomycosis-related declines of amphibians observed in Panama. The project was initially funded by a consortium of 6 zoo and conservation non-profits and we developed a country-wide strategy to build capacity in Panama to conserve at risk species. We expanded the amount of holding space for captive collections of amphibians in Panama by building a new ex-situ facility the Gamboa Amphibian Conservation Center, which compliments the pre-existing El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center. Our combined facilities now house assurance colonies of 12 species of endangered frogs. In the process, we learned that avoiding an extinction using captive breeding as a mitigation action is improved by establishing founding populations of animals before they decline, having pre-existing knowledge of how to maintain and breed these species in captivity, and by selecting species that are most highly susceptible to the chytrid fungus. Captive populations are a stop-gap measure to buy time to research species management actions that will allow us to successfully reintroduce frogs back into the wild. To date our research has included probiotics and transcriptome studies. We also conduct research to improve husbandry and develop assisted reproduction tools that will help us to maintain the captive collection over the longer term.  Finally, we built public support in Panama for amphibian conservation through 2 public exhibitions of amphibians, coordinating annual golden frog day celebrations attended by 2,000 people, and developing informal educational activities linked to the Panamanian school curriculum and our exhibits.

The SENR Seminar begins at 4:10 p.m in 164 Howlett Hall with a video link to 123 Williams Hall on the Wooster campus.