Analyzing Factors Influencing Reproductive Success of the Mountain Chicken : Nordens Ark Captive Breeding Program
Abstract: Amphibians globally are declining with roughly a third facing extinction due primarily to threats linked to human impacts. One way in which this is being combated is by captive breeding programs. Nordens Ark in Sweden, in collaboration with other organizations, is attempting to breed one of the most threatened frogs for future reintroduction to the wild. The mountain chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) has unique characteristics related to its reproduction which make it challenging to breed successful offspring. Using Nordens Ark’s data on environmental conditions within breeding enclosures, this study attempts to determine which extrinsic factors are having the most influence on reproduction, in order to increase the success of the captive breeding program. Multiple linear regression analysis and model simplification using Stepwise regression and Akaike information criterion (AIC) were performed in order to determine which explanatory variables had the most influence in relation to foam nests. A reduced model with significant values for explanatory variables was deemed the best model based on the dataset. Of the 14 environmental variables tested, minimum temperature after nest construction had the most influence on foam nest length. When compared to wild habitats, temperatures within enclosures may be too high or lack seasonal cyclical patterns. Barometric pressure and humidity also had influence on foam nests, but the relationships between these environmental conditions is difficult to parse. Food supplements were also a significant factor and suggest that lack of vitamins or nutrients can have a negative effect on reproductive success. Ensuring the optimal conditions can be difficult for captive breeding programs, especially as amphibians are under-represented and face biases in conservation and research.
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