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What we can do to save species

This is a discussion on What we can do to save species within the Conservation and Habitat Management forums, part of the Herpetological Science & Politics category; Dr. Kevin Zippel of Amphibian Ark has kindly written about what we as enthusiasts can contribute to the conservation effort. ...

Conservation and Habitat Management For discussion of the creation and maintenance of wild habitats for caudates and other amphibians, and on amphibian conservation issues.

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Old 5th December 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs up What we can do to save species

Dr. Kevin Zippel of Amphibian Ark has kindly written about what we as enthusiasts can contribute to the conservation effort. There's a lot of substance here and I know we've already made some progress with some species through this community. Thank you to Kevin for taking the time to write to us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Z

Hi John, well I can't speak for the entire zoo community, but I and a handful of others certainly feel that much (dare I say the majority?) of husbandry expertise resides in the private sector, especially when it comes to caudates. I see great potential for the private sector to have a hand in amphibian conservation. Unfortunately, I fear that long-held concerns about accountability are currently too great to say that we will be swapping endangered species any time soon. But I have been thinking about other ways that the private sector can help.


1. Husbandry research. This might entail using surrogate species (that you can get) as models for threatened species (that you probably cannot get), e.g., if you can teach us how to consistently breed Necturus maculosus, maybe we can apply that to N. alabamensis. Also, there are evolutionarily distinct (and therefore valuable) species that are not yet threatened but likely will be someday. Rhinophrynus dorsalis is off the charts for ED, Ascaphus are pretty high too. I donít believe that zoos know how to husband these things, but I bet a private sector keeper hell-bent on it could figure it out, write the book, and stick it on a shelf until the day it is really needed. I have to laugh, we can't even breed Anaxyrus (Bufo) americanus consistently or without hormones, no wonder we struggle with A. baxteri and B. lemur!

2. Saturating national pet markets to alleviate pressure on wild populations. I just learned that Mantella is the highest-traded CITES amphibian, and 80% of them are coming to the US. We don't have to lobby for trade restrictions and expend limited resources intensively managing assurance populations in zoos, we just need some expert breeders in the US to mass produce them (no husbandry tricks with this one) and saturate the market (something zoos will not do) selling them cheaper than wild-caught, hopefully with some of the proceeds going to habitat protection back home. Same can be said of darts, and some sallies like Neurergus kaiseri and Paramesotriton laoensis. You guys could kill that trade in a year, if you set your hearts on it, right?

3. Fundraising. It's amazing what grassroots can do. We have brownies in Cleveland collecting cans, 2nd-graders outside of Columbus donating more to our efforts than 96% of zoos, 9-year-old boys foregoing b-day presents for donations to AArk. It can be something as small as $50/month to pay the kids in Panama to collect wild inverts for the threatened amphibs inside EVACC, or $50,000 to save an entire species from extinction single-handedly. The possibilities are endless.

Food for thought.
Cheers,
Kevin



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Old 10th December 2008   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

another way private breeders could help is by producing disease-free salamanders for the bait industry to minimize pathogen pollution. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18717688
a horrible fate for any animal, but better it is done with clean surplus cb animals.


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A very good piece by Kevin:

What we can do to save species



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Old 11th December 2008   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Z View Post
another way private breeders could help is by producing disease-free salamanders for the bait industry to minimize pathogen pollution. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18717688
a horrible fate for any animal, but better it is done with clean surplus cb animals.
Kevin, I appreciate the suggestion, and I hate to shoot you down here, but of all the species we could breed, that is one of the most difficult and there's likely to be no way that we can keep them guaranteed disease free unless they are kept indoors or in some sort of facility that completely prevents wild amphibians entering the grounds. To be of any real help, this would be a very large undertaking, and from a business point of view, highly uneconomical considering how much cheaper and easier it is to harvest them from the wild. It's a shame really, but I think the best way to solve this one is to outlaw their use as bait. I know bass fisherman like their "waterdogs" but I'm amazed at how tolerant of such downright stupid practices (the spreading of alien subspecies/species between states) certain authorities in the US are given all of the laws to prevent the likes of us owning certain species/genera in certain states. At least California is giving a blanket no as opposed to being hypocritical.



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Old 11th December 2008   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

I've got to agree with John here. Depending on the species and breeding setup, it's going to cost $10-15 per animal, and a lot of time, which just can't work for the bait trade. And even then, it's pretty difficult to rule out pathogens completely; given other CB herps, I'm sure our collections are going to have a lot of pathogens and parasites that could be spread to wild animals, and ensuring this eliminated would mean much more expensive care. And we'd still have the invasive species risk.

I don't see why they should even be legal as bait; there are plenty of alternatives, and even more problems with using amphibians as bait. As a fisherman, I've never even seen a baitshop selling amphibians, and I've caught plenty of nice sized fish just using minnows or artificial lures (though the minnows could be just as bad). Live bait has been linked to all sorts of problems (Rusty Crayfish, for example), so you think they'd learn one of these days.



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Old 13th December 2008   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

hi guys, I appreciate the feedback. But I also maintain that it CAN be done, it is just a question of motivation. I agree that tiger salamanders are not easy to breed (although I wonder how many people have REALLY tried). But Toledo and Detroit bred the hell out of A. opacum. Granted, a slightly different repro mode, but they achieved the proper cycling to stimulate breeding, and to me that is the only aspect of the process that I would consider undetermined. The rest is simple. Look at axolotls! One could certainly mass produce them, if so motivated, as labs and lab suppliers do. Once you get your tigers into the water and reproductive, the rest should be cake. And maybe we don't even need to get them into the water; there are certainly natural paedomorphic tigers out there one could work with, which are presumably as easy to breed as axolotls. And Tim and I recently learned about a government facility that is mass producing Necturus for toxicology studies. So I submit that the basic ideas and tools are out there, it is just a matter of someone taking it on in earnest.

I never suggested that it would be a significant source of income, just that it would be the right thing to do. For a hobbyist that is, I don't see a bait shop taking it on. My vision was a hobbyist giving (or selling more cheaply than wild-caught) their cb animals to local bait shops around their area. I will give you 2 examples of private individual doing things like this, not because it is profitable, but because it is the right thing to do. (1) In Australia, a frustrated zookeeper went and started his own amphibian conservation facility, funded by donations and revenue from selling cb pet frogs and food items; now he does more for amphibian conservation there than the entire Oz zoo commuity combined [www.frogs.org.au], and (2) a private breeder in Germnay I met last summer turned his backyard into a series of very modestly sized ponds and stocked them with local species; now he harvests 1.5-2 million (you heard me) offspring each year for local restoration projects [see www.amphibianark.org/Kevin/Darmstadt.pdf, photos courtesy of Gerardo Garcia]. They do these things not because it will make them rich, or even give them any positive income for their troubles, but rather because they love wild amphibians so much. Food for thought.

Oh, and by the way, on the matter of disease, it is possible to do it well in this situtation. I am not saying that the bait animals should be 'disease free', just free of a few. If someone were to do this, they could start with some founders from a local healthy population, have them tested for a couple biggies like chytrid and ranavirus, then just keep them isolated from your exotics (or better yet, don't keep exotics!). If bait animals have other local, native pathogens/parasites, who cares? You will likely just be selling them to local/area bait shops and they will probably be used in the same (or nearby) watershed from where they came.

In the end, I agree John, outlawing them as bait is a better step in the right direction. After you accomplish that, then outlaw fish as bait too, then all other live bait, and then the stocking of waterways with sport fish at all! You don't even want to know how much of your tax money that is earmarked for "endangered species" goes to stocking sport fish vs. amphibians in legitimate need...

cheers, kcz



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Old 13th December 2008   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

if by rusty crayfish you mean what we call the signal crayfish then i second that, my local park has an explosive population of signal crayfish that are non native.

they taste brill but there no good for the environment.



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Old 13th December 2008   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

Again, not to be dismissive, but Ambystoma opacum are relatively easy to breed, small and don't require elaborate conditions. Ambystoma mexicanum is without doubt the easiest Ambystoma species to breed. If you look at the hobbyist accounts of breeding Ambystoma mavortium, they all involve considerably more complicated procedures that virtually maintain them in outdoor conditions for a significant part of the year and even those with success cannot repeat their results with the same individual animals in succession. I truly wish that tigers could be replaced in bait shops with captive bred animals.



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Old 14th December 2008   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

The wholesale price for a 5 inch tiger salamanders is about 1.00. How in the world could you raise a salamander to 5" long and have less than 1.00 worth of time and food in it? I doubt that most participants on this forum would advocate using tiger salamanders as bait. I'm all for mass producing Ambystoma but will be sticking to Ambystoma mexicanum and Ambystoma andersoni. Mass producing Ambystoma tigrinum especially with the state laws about keeping tigrinum and the throw away cost of them isn't a practical idea.



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Old 14th December 2008   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

For individuals it would be very difficult to raise A. tigrinum or mavortium to that size for a $1.00. Fisheries might be able to do it. Has anyone checked into that?

I suggested in the thread on HR 6311 that it might be possible to sterilize nonnative species (fish, crayfish, salamanders) for use as bait.

There are a number of reasons why people fail in their attempts to breed Ambystoma. In gerneral, they don't know how to handle the animals, recognize animals that are ready to breed, and miss a window of opprotunity that the animals can be bred.

This window is pretty wide for the terrestial breeding A. opacum and the aquatic A. mexicanum. That may be why the are more easily bred in captivity.



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Old 14th December 2008   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

In response to Marco, rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) are a species from the Ohio River basin, and they've proven horrible ecologically and have taken over the entirety of Wisconsin, and parts of other states. But other crayfish have proven just as bad. But it does show that particular baits can be banned without ill effects in other areas, since it's now illegal to use crayfish as bait in Wisconsin, though other states really need to learn from their example, rather than waiting until it happens to them, too.

In regards to salamanders, the problem is that there's no way to undercut wild caught bait shop animals with captive bred ones. Even if you somehow managed to get the cost down to $1.00 each (including taxes, filtration costs, feeding, tests for disease, the huge initial investment to get a project like this going, and not mentioning the time or the heavy losses from cannibalism), the collectors can just lower the price to $0.95, or lower, etc. All it costs them is gas and taxes; the best a breeder would be able to do is make it not worth the low price of collecting, but they'll take huge losses and eventually go bankrupt. Outlawing bait shop animals is the only way to avoid problems with exotics and diseases, and even then you run the risk that they'll just say, "No one can keep salamanders, period."

You run into similar problems with pet store animals, but there is a chance there that a great deal of WC animals can be done away with. The low prices of Cynops and Paramesotriton make it impossible for a hobbyist to compete, but prices at least there are higher than the $1 price of bait shop tigers, and there's always room to go up when offering healthy vs. nearly dead animals. Additionally, raising Cynops or Paramesotriton is significantly cheaper than a tiger salamander, and you don't have the cannibalism issues so much. I'm hoping to branch out into mass producing some of those animals in the future, but the problem is the initial investment of capital to make something like that work is very difficult to come by.




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Old 14th December 2008   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

I think what Kevin is suggesting is that devoted hobbyists may be willing to offer animals to the pet trade or bait shops at a financial loss. Personally, I'm willing to offer animals at a financial loss, I do it all the time with Cynops. But even I would draw the line at offering them to bait shops. Maybe it's a silly emotional attachment, but I like to think that the animals I send off into the world have at least a slim chance to live a healthy life and reproduce some day. I just can't stomach the idea of bringing these creatures to life and then sending them off to be fish bait. (And I have a pretty tough stomach, including the willingness to take some risks with individual animals in order to perpetuate a species in captivity.)



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Old 15th December 2008   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: What we can do to save species

I donít think youíll find anyone at a hobbyist level willing to sacrifice their efforts to the bait trade. Tiger breeding is so rare that all we can hope for is an impact on the pet trade. Certainly here in Europe it is not difficult to find captive bred tiger salamanders, so things move in the right direction.

Wouldnít it be better to put efforts into outlawing this bizarre practice? I may be wrong but it seems the rest of the world gets along fine without hooking a salamander onto their fishing line. Isnít it more important to save a species from threats such as habitat loss, pollution, global warming or chytrid? Why put efforts into something that can be stopped very simply? Sadly for us the threats faced by most amphibians are far more complex than the whim of the fishing community.

Is there a prioritisation list drawn up for caudata? If so can we see it?



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Old 15th December 2008   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: What we can do to save species

I believe selling salamanders for bait is becoming a thing of the past, at least here in Virginia. Virginia has outlawed selling salamanders for bait, which I would love to see other states accept this policy. You can still catch your own to use as bait but there are some restrictions, like only 50 can be kept and they have to be under 6 inches. Granted this in my opinion is still too much but at least it's a small step in the right direction.



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Old 15th December 2008   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: What we can do to save species

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post
Is there a prioritisation list drawn up for caudata? If so can we see it?
As far as I am aware, the prioritisation lists are drawn up for regions, and for all amphibia in that region, not by order, and scored in a non-comparable way (so you can't compare the ranking score of a species from Europe with one from Panama).

All the regionl priority lists (for those regions done so far) are available at:

http://portal.isis.org/partners/AARK/default.aspx

Look in the left-hand menu bar undr 'lists' for the files. You have to scroll down to see the second entry on some of the documents; e.g. Hongkong/Guangdon does not only have Andrias davidianus in it.


Chris




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Old 21st December 2008   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: What we can do to save species

In this day and age where we are so much more educated in the roles of amphibians within nature it truly is a crime that things like this still happen..

As for using foreign animals as fish bait, the chances of them escaping of the hook and breeding would simply be too high, how many of you have thrown away your excess maggots after a long weekends fishing? Im sure plenty of people would chuck their excess axolotls into the rivers aswell..

All this talk of fishing is driving me nuts, think i might go fish for some Pike.



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Old 23rd December 2008   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: What we can do to save species

Is their anything wrong with those new biodegradable lures that often are very convincing waterdogs...or even simpler, pork rind lures? I thought it was interesting his comments on how we could help endangered sp. by breeding more common sp. One tiny problem is some common sp. aren't available commercially very often for people to try their hand at. I've never seen Rhinophrynus dorsalis for sale(perhaps for good reason they don't seem all that common)...and I bet Ascaphus is pretty much off limits to collection. I wonder if their would be a way for smaller groups of animals to be brought in for experienced hobbyists(perhaps study groups could form and bring in small numbers of quality animals), rather than the mass number of imports typical of today. Also, a rather sad thing about hobbyists is that if the species is not commercially valuable little effort is put in to breed it. Hyla cinerea cannot be harder than some of the Central/South American treefrogs yet it is seldom bred in captivity in the US.



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Old 21st February 2014   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: What we can do to save species

Forgive me for being repetitive but the best way to compete with wild caught is to produce color morphs not found in the wild. If your selling captive bred locality specific you just increase the demand for wild caught and you can not compete with their price. For everyone who will only buy captive bred there will be two who will take wild caught. With color morphs however, there are not wild forms available and every dollar spent on one is a dollar that is not spent on a wild caught.



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Old 11th July 2014   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Ampibian Ark Donations Drive

The Idea of using forum to discuss about how to conserve and manage species is great. This platform will help to Have various idea to conserve amphibians. Amphibians like fishes , frogs etc, plays important role in the management process of environment. This Forum will help a lot for conservation of such species. These species can be conserved by providing them natural habitat.



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