Breeding technique give northern corroboree frogs a taste of the wild at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Territory researchers are trying new breeding techniques to boost Australia's threatened northern corroboree frog.
About 30 frogs will be released into semi-wild enclosures at Tidbinbilla this month, providing more natural conditions for the frogs to be bred in.
The ACT leads Australia's main captive breeding program for the tiny black and yellow frogs at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, accounting for 90 per cent of the captive population.
ACT government senior ecologist Dr Murray Evans said one of the main objectives was to breed frogs which can be released back into the wild.
Populations have declined due to the amphibian disease chytrid fungus, which has also hampered past efforts to re-establish wild populations in Namadgi National Park.
"Traditional frog captive breeding programs are resource intensive, usually using climate controlled conditions, and programs can be limited by space as well as resources," Dr Evans said.
"Our new semi-wild enclosures will provide the frogs with more natural conditions and space, and will also allow more frogs to be bred and raised."
A new research collaboration between the ACT government and the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Program will ensure that the frogs bred at Tidbinbilla have the best chance of establishing healthy wild populations.
Lead researcher Dr Ben Scheele, from the Australian National University, is working to identify potential new release sites that will give the frogs an advantage in the wild.
"We are moving beyond focusing just on habitat and environmental conditions that suit northern corroboree frogs including finding areas that are most unfavourable to chytrid fungus, and that have few other frog species to act as carriers of the disease," he said.
"We are also investigating other aspects that can give the corroboree frogs an advantage and allow wild populations to better tolerate the impacts of chytrid fungus; one of these factors is better understanding how long frogs take to reach sexual maturity.
"Although the frogs are found high up in the mountains of Namadgi, we think warmer temperatures at lower sites could give the frogs a helping hand by enabling them to grow faster and breed sooner.
"We will survey lower elevation areas in Namadgi National Park with the aim of identifying potential new habitat for introductions of corroboree frogs.
"The overall objective is to ensure that the frogs bred at Tidbinbilla have the best chance of surviving and breeding in the wild to establish healthy wild populations."