Mountain chicken research news
Delivering a massive brood of 76, from just two females, the critically-endangered mountain chicken frogs’ offspring will be released back into a protected and disease-free area of the wild when they are fully grown. Find out more .
In April 2008, an International Workshop was held in Dominica at the Holy Redeemer Retreat. Amphibian conservationists and experts in captive breeding, along with representatives from across the Lesser Antilles attended. A major output from this meeting will be the finalization of an Amphibian Chytridiomycosis Management Plan for the Lesser Antilles Region: minimizing the risk of spread, and mitigating the effects, of this disease in amphibians in the future.
Hon Julius Timothy, Minister for Economic Development and Urban Renewal, gave the Feature Address at the Opening Ceremony. Mrs Claudia Bellot, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, welcomed attendees to the Nature Island of Dominica.
Dr Trevorne Douglas gives a tour of the laboratory in the Botanical Gardens, Roseau, to workshop delegates from across the Lesser Antilles. The facility will act as a centre for chytrid diagnostics and research across the Lesser Antilles region.
An international programme for the ex situ conservation management of the mountain chicken Leptodactylus fallax, from Dominica, has been formed. In April 2008, Mr Richard Gibson from the North of England Zoological Society, and Mr Minchinton Burton, Forestry Wildlife Division, Dominica, co-signed a Memorandum of Participation in this breeding programme. The Zoological Society of London is already a participating member of this programme.
In-country captive breeding of the Dominican mountain chicken is planned in the Botanical Gardens, Roseau. Construction of the building began in December 2007 and works are now nearing completion. Efforts are underway to learning how to breed local crickets to feed the hungry amphibians – these large frogs will have quite an appetite!
An Official Ceremony to declare the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in the Botanical Gardens, Dominica, open was held on 20th March 2006. Welcome and Opening Remarks were given by Claudia Bellot, PS Agriculture. The Hon. John Collin McIntyre, Minister of Agriculture and Environment, and Dr Andrew Cunningham, Institute of Zoology, each gave an address at the event. Mr Eric Hypolite, Director of Forestry, led the vote of thanks and closing remarks. The molecular diagnostic laboratory has been constructed and equipped for testing samples for the chytrid fungus currently posing a threat to Dominican’a amphibian fauna, including the mountain chicken frog. It is hoped that the laboratory will become a center of excellence for amphibian health research across the Lesser Antilles over the coming years.
An International Training workshop on prevention of chytrid spread and early surveillance measures was held at the Holy Redeemer Retreat House in March 2006. Representatives from the Forestry and Wildlife Division and the Veterinary Services Division of the Government of Dominica hosted the workshop which was attended by colleagues from across the Lesser Antilles. Mr Oliver Grell, the Director of Agriculture, gave the opening address. Experts in amphibian health and captive husbandry from the Zoological Society of London, Chester Zoo, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Fauna and Flora International gave presentations and contributed to the discussion and formulation of a draft management plan to limit the damage caused by chytrid to the region’s amphibian fauna.
In an effort to discover the full extent of the dissemination of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Dominica, a new member has been added to the team. Dr. Valarie Thomas, a local veterinarian who has a background in molecular microbiology, is currently receiving training at the Institute of Zoology at the Zoological Society of London. This training includes various molecular and non-molecular techniques which will aid in the detection of B.dendrobatidis from infected samples.
Dr. Thomas will perform on-the-spot analysis of samples using different PCR methods such as nested and real time PCR. In addition to these methods some microscopic and macroscopic evaluations will also be performed on samples where deemed necessary.
The crapaud (Leptodactylus fallax) is one of the world’s largest frogs and is also known, rather confusingly, as the mountain chicken (the meat is thought to taste like chicken, however, the frog inhabits lowland terrain on the island’s coast and not the inland mountainous region!).