Amphibians are declining worldwide, and ex situ approaches (e.g. captive breeding and reintroduction) are increasingly incorporated into recovery strategies. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether these approaches are helping mitigate losses. To investigate this, I examine the conservation value of captive collections. I find that collections do not reflect the species of likeliest greatest concern in the future but that non-traditional zoos and conservation-focused breeding programs are bolstering the representation of threatened amphibians held ex situ. Next, I examine the reproductive success of captive breeding programs in relation to species’ biological traits and extrinsic traits of the program. Based on 285 programs, I find that not all species are breeding in captivity, yet success is not correlated to the suite of tested predictors. Overall, ex situ approaches are playing a potentially important role in amphibian conservation, but we must work to improve the representation of threatened amphibians in zoos and husbandry expertise.
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Thesis advisor: Mooers, Arne
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