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  Conservation actions

The work of conservation involves taking action with the aim of protecting the remaining individuals of a species and facilitating and promoting the reproduction of species (also in captivity). Ultimately this should lead to conservation of a species for the long run.

Analysis of the data from each completed Conservation Needs Assessments by the software results in the generation of one or more recommended conservation actions for a species. The recommended actions for each species are displayed in the banner information at the top of each assessment:

There are eleven different conservation actions:

In Situ Conservation
In Situ Research
Husbandry Research
Applied Ex Situ Research
Mass Production in Captivity
Conservation Education

Some of these actions relate to ex situ (captive) conservation programs and some relate to in situ (in the wild) conservation activities; there is also the possibility that no conservation action is recommended at this time.

The conservation actions that are generated by the data depend on various criteria, including the Red List category and the EDGE score. Each conservation action has its distinct set of criteria and these are described below.

A species that is extinct in the wild (locally or globally) and which would become completely extinct without ex situ management.

The criterion for Ark species is:

   • IUCN Red List category = Extinct in the Wild (EW)

Ark species can no longer be found in the wild, but still have individuals living in one or more populations in zoos, aquariums or other captive facilities. These captive populations are managed very carefully to ensure the genetic variation within them and to ensure that these populations continue to breed. Large-scale efforts in the wild are needed for alleviating the threats that caused the species to become extinct in the wild, so that eventually, captive-bred animals can be released back into a safe environment.

Examples of Ark species are the Wyoming Toad (Anaxyrus baxteri) from the United States of America and the Kihansi Spray Toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis) from Tanzania, although release efforts are now underway with the Kihansi Spray Toad.

A species that is in imminent danger of extinction (locally or globally) and requires ex situ management, as part of an integrated program, to ensure its survival.

The criteria for Rescue species are:

   • IUCN Red List category is not Extinct in the Wild (EW)


   • Threat Mitigation = Threats cannot/will not be reversed in time to prevent likely species extinction.

Rescue species, unlike the Ark species, still survive in the wild, but the threats being faced by them likely will result in species extinction if no action is taken. This means that the future of these species needs to be saved by managing populations in captivity, with the necessary focus on genetic variation and continued breeding. At the same time in situ research is needed to investigate the threats in the species’ natural habitat. Only when these threats are under control can these species be reintroduced in their natural habitat.

Examples of Rescue species are the Mallorcan Midwife Toad (Alytes muletensis), found only on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Chiriqui Harlequin Frog (Atelopus chiriquiensis) from Ecuador, whose decline is linked to chytridiomycosis.

In Situ Conservation
A species for which mitigation of threats in the wild may still bring about its successful conservation.

The criteria for In Situ Conservation species are:

   • IUCN Red List category = EW or CR or EN or VU

In situ conservation refers to protecting a species in its natural habitat. For some of these species the threats they face are still reversible and its population(s) can be saved by managing their habitat adequately. For other species the threats are more severe, and creating protected habitat might be the key to their survival. By purchasing land and protecting it for conservation purposes or by lobbying governments for additional national parks, the threats to these species can be mitigated by providing them with safer and/or better habitats.

Examples of In Situ Conservation species are the Ornamented Pygmy Frog (Microhyla ornata), a species from the Indian Subcontinent and the Collared Poison Frog (Mannophryne collaris) a species endemic to Venezuela.

In Situ Research
A species that for one or more reasons requires further in situ research to be carried out as part of the conservation action for the species. One or more critical pieces of information is not known at this time.

The criteria for In Situ Research species are:

   • IUCN Red List category = Data Deficient (DD) Or
   • Threat Mitigation = Unknown Or
   • Protected Habitat = Unknown Or
   • Population Recovery = Unknown Or
   • Over-collection status = Unknown Or
   • Taxonomic Status = No Or
   • Founder Specimens = Unknown Or
   • Conservation role = Rescue Or.
   • In Situ Research Needed = Yes.

For an In Situ Research species further research about the status in the wild is required, for instance about the threats it is facing, the exact size of the population or the trends in population numbers. Without these data it is hard to decide on which strategy would be best to save the species and where action should be focused. A good example of in situ research are the studies on amphibian chytrid fungus: whether the disease is present in a certain area and how it might spread throughout populations.

Examples of In Situ Research species are Ainsworth's Salamander (Plethodon ainsworthi), considered to be extinct, but research is needed in case it reappears, and Rose's Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei) that has a cultural significance to South Africans.

Husbandry Research
A species recommended as a husbandry analog for more threatened species which have been recommended for Ex Situ Rescue. These species should be used to develop husbandry protocols which can be applied to more threatened species.

The criteria for Husbandry Research is:

   • The species has been identified as a husbandry analog for one or more threatened species.

Some extremely threatened species are recommended for ex situ rescue, as it is thought that they will likely go extinct in the wild before the threats they face can be mitigated. However in some cases, almost nothing is known about the reproductive biology or habitat requirements for these species. Rather than "experiment" with the threatened species in captivity, it is often better to bring a closely-related, but more common species into captivity, and develop husbandry and breeding protocols which can then be applied to the more threatened species.

Applied Ex Situ Research
A species currently undergoing, or proposed for, specific applied research that directly contributes to the conservation of that species, or a related species, in the wild.

The criteria for Ex Situ Research species is:

  • IUCN Red List category = Critically Endangered (CR) or Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU) or Near Threatened (NT) or Data Deficient (DD), and conserving this species depends on ex situ research and Threat Mitigation = Threats unknown or Threats are reversible in time frame.

Ex situ research for amphibians can vary over a wide range of disciplines including nutrition and husbandry, display and education, disease, population genetics, health and reproduction technologies. The knowledge that is obtained in a captive setting, for instance in zoos or aquariums, can then be used to help the preservation of this species or a related species in the wild. For example, research in Hanoi on captive Vietnamese Mossy Frogs (Theloderma corticale) has provided information on larval development and larval stages in this species. This information is crucial for the proper determination of anuran larval stages in the wild both for inventories of frog diversity and habitat assessments, which are important data sets for other potential conservation actions.

Other examples of Ex Situ Research species are Eleutherodactylus corona, endemic to Haiti and Dermophis glandulosus a caecilian from Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Mass Production in Captivity
A species threatened through wild collection (e.g. as a food resource), which could be or is currently being bred in captivity – normally in-country, ex situ - to replace a demand for specimens collected from the wild. Generally the captive-breeding of pet and hobbyist species is excluded from this category, except in exceptional circumstances where coordinated, managed breeding programs can demonstrably reduce wild collection of a threatened species.

The criteria for Mass Production in Captivity species are:

   • IUCN Red List category = Critically Endangered (CR) or Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU)


   • Species is suffering from over-collection from the wild.

Species like the Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus) are currently under threat, because many individuals are collected in the wild to be used as a food source or for the pet trade. To alleviate the pressure of overharvesting from the wild, some species are (or can be) mass produced in captivity and then sold into the food trade or into the pet trade.

Examples are the Fanged River Frog (Limnonectes macrodon) from Indonesia and the Titicaca Water Frog (Telmatobius culeus) that lives high up in the Andes, and which some people use to make a popular frog juice that is thought to cure all kinds of illnesses.

Conservation Education
A species that is specifically selected to inspire and increase knowledge in visitors to zoos and aquariums; national parks, forests and recreation areas; and in ecotourism activities, in order to promote positive attitudes and behavioural change which improve that species’ chances of survival in the wild. For example, when a species is used to raise financial support for field conservation projects that directly benefit that species.

The criteria for Conservation Education species are either:

   • The species has a high Evolutionary Distinctiveness score


   • The species is biologically, culturally, or scientifically significant


   • The species is suited to be an educational ambassador for amphibian conservation.

Species belonging to this category are selected with the aim of helping people of all ages understand and appreciate amphibian diversity and learn how to conserve it for future generations. Conservation education in general enables people to realize how natural resources and ecosystems affect each other and how resources can be used wisely, through structured educational experiences and activities targeted to varying age groups and populations. Ideally, these species will contribute to encouraging people to act on their own to conserve natural resources and use them in a responsible manner by making informed resource decisions.

Examples are the Long-nosed Horned Frog (Megophrys nasuta) a very striking-looking frog from South-East Asia and the Golden mantilla (Mantella aurantiaca) from Madagascar.

A species for which ex situ management benefits the wild population through breeding for release into an existing population of conspecifics as part of the recommended conservation action.

The criteria for Supplementation species are:
  • Threat Mitigation = Threats are being managed or Threats are reversible within a time frame that will prevent further decline/extinction or Species is effectively protected.


   • The (sub)population of the species in the wild is too small to recovery naturally


   • There is suitable habitat available for reintroduction or translocation.

Supplementation refers to animals that are captive bred and released back into the wild to supplement and boost the existing population(s). In general the numbers of these populations in the wild are so small that natural reproduction alone cannot ensure the survival of the species. By breeding them in captivity and releasing those individuals into the wild, the numbers of the wild populations increase and the population should once again be self-sustaining. Supplementation can only be done when there is enough suitable habitat left in the wild.

A species for which the long-term storage of sperm or cells to perpetuate their genetic variation is urgently recommended, due to the serious threat of extinction of the species.

The criteria for Biobanking species are:

   • Recommended conservation role is Ark or Rescue

Species for which biobanking is recommended, are under imminent danger of extinction. This is why frozen tissues of the species will be stored before it is lost forever. The preservation of DNA is necessary so research can continue into their evolutionary histories. More importantly, the hope is that one day we will be able to use cells from the frozen tissue samples to produce animals using advanced cloning techniques.

Examples are the Giant Ditch Frog (Leptodactylus fallax) constricted to the islands of Dominica and Montserrat and Sanguirana everetti from the Philippines.

Species that do not require any conservation action at this point in time. This list may also contain species that were not evaluated during the workshop due to lack of available data.

The criteria for these species are:

   • Species does not match the criteria for any of the previous roles


   • Insufficient data available during the workshop to properly evaluate the species.

Not assessed
Species has not yet been assessed for its conservation needs.

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