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Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 172516275

Reintroducing captive-bred Variable Harlequin Frogs (Atelopus varius) back into the wild

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 172516275) - Variable Harlequin Frog - Awarded $25,000 on November 21, 2017

We conducted the first ever experimental release trial of 500 captive-bred Atelopus varius at 2 sites in the Donoso region of Panama where populations have declined significantly as a result of the amphibian chytrid fungus disease.

We will conduct mark-recapture resurveys to estimate survival and disease prevalence in released animals. We will radio track a small subset of 8 male and 8 female animals on a daily basis for 60 days to estimate dispersal, sex-specific habitat selection, and non-disease related mortality. We will collect baseline amphibian disease prevalence information from the pre-existing community and monitor climatic conditions at each site.

Data from this release trial will be used immediately to inform demographic models of frog population persistence and decline in an adaptive management framework that guides future reintroduction efforts.

These preliminary release trials will also be used as part of a larger long-term effort to restore Atelopus populations throughout Panama and evaluate whether micro climates at different sites have the potential to act as ‘climatic refuges’ from the amphibian chytrid fungus.

Publications: 

Conserving Panamanian harlequin frogs by integrating captive-breeding and research programs https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718315842?dgcid=author 

Project document