Progress of the Pleurodema somuncurense program
at La Plata University

Species

Pleurodema somuncurense

Common Name(s)

Valcheta’s Frog

Region where program is based

South America

Country where program is based

Argentina

The authority that recommended this species for an ex situ program

La Plata University

Has a genetic analysis been performed on wild populations to define the target taxon, i.e., verify that single, viable Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESU's) that are managed as separate populations, are not confounded by cryptic species or polymorphisms?

Name of the institution managing the ex situ population

La Plata University

Year the program started

2014

Is at least some portion of the captive population maintained in range country?

Yes

Are sufficient resources available to manage the ex situ population?

No

Are adequate numbers of skilled staff available with the appropriate ex situ amphibian experience?

Yes

Is sufficient space available for the required population size?

Yes

Additional Support required

We do not have constant financing for maintenance of the frogs. While we have managed to access resources over the years, most cover one-year periods. While the total program has a planned duration of 10 years (of which we have already covered 3), the program still has an additional 7 years to run.

Has a Taxon Management Coordinator for the ex situ population been appointed?

Yes

Taxon Management Coordinator

Federico Kacoliris of La Plata University

Has a Taxon Management Group or Recovery Team been established?

Yes

Has a Taxon Management Plan, Recovery Plan or Species Action Statement been written?

Yes

Web link to Taxon Management Plan

Have Husbandry Guidelines been written?

No

Web link to Husbandry Management Guidelines

Have any knowledge gaps in the species biology or in their interaction with potential threats been identified that could benefit from research using the ex situ population?

Yes

List of knowledge gaps

It is important to define the minimum viable sizes and the minimum area requirements, as well as the chances of connectivity between local populations, which can reduce problems associated with inbreeding. For this, population viability analyzes are being carried out, for which we are using basic information on the reproductive biology of the species, recorded in captivity (and corroborated with observations in the field).

Have founder needs been calculated using the AArk Amphibian Population Management Guidelines ?

Yes

Have sufficient potential founders been collected? ( AArk Amphibian Population Management Guidelines recommends a minimum of 20 pairs of found animals).

Yes

Is the ex situ population managed by nationals from the range country?

Yes

What tools are used to maximize retention of genetic diversity?

Has the population produced viable offspring?

Yes

Have the first generation captive-bred animals bred successfully?

Yes

Is the ex situ population housed in permanent isolation from other populations occurring outside its range?

Yes

Is work being supported to study and mitigate threats to the species in the wild, either by the institution or by a regional wildlife agency?

Yes

Have captive-bred or captive-reared animals been released into the wild?

Yes

If releases were undertaken, have disease screening protocols or veterinary health checks been conducted prior to releases to the wild?

Yes

Is follow-up work being carried out to monitor progress of the released animals?

Yes

Is the taxon again secure in the wild, even if it might still require some ongoing in situ management? i.e. has the need for a captive assurance population been obviated such that we can call this a successfully terminated captive rescue program?

No

Comments

2018: In september the first clutches of eggs and tadpoles produced by the reintroduced, captive-bred animals were found in the wild. This means not only that the released frogs are breeding in situ but also, that eggs reaching the stage of tadpoles, indicating the habitat is enough healthy for that. Information is being collected from groups of individuals from different local populations. We are not making this record at the individual level, since the frogs reproduce at dawn. Movement of individuals from the same local population among fish tanks helps to maximize reproduction between different individuals (different pairs). We have received support from the local authorities (Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development of Río Negro) to carry out the on-site habitat management actions. A total of 280 individuals born and bred in captivity to wildlife have been released. However, the ex situ population is still necessary to fulfill the objective of supplementing the local population to which these individuals have been reintroduced and to achieve the reintroduction of a new local population, now extinct. Seasonal monitoring is carried out and it has been observed that a large number of individuals have successfully acclimated to wildlife, with good signs of health and general condition. The individuals were released into a restored habitat from which the previous threats were eliminated. In March 2017, with the support of the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development of Río Negro (SAyDS - government entity in charge of the Somuncura Plateau), we transported from the rescue center some 196 individuals born in captivity to their natural environment. In an event attended by students and teachers of the local school, Park Keepers of SAyDS, local residents and the members of this project, individuals were released at a protected site on private land.
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