Amphibians: Formulate larval diets to improve development or survival to adulthood

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    65%
  • Certainty
    35%
  • Harms
    0%

Source countries

Key messages

  • One randomized, replicated, controlled study in the USA found that tadpoles had a higher body mass and reached a more advanced developmental stage when fed a control diet (rabbit chow and fish food) or freshwater algae, compared to those fed pine or oak pollen. Tadpoles fed only pine or oak pollen did not undergo metamorphosis.
  • One randomised, replicated study in Portugal found that tadpoles reared on a diet containing 46% protein had higher growth rates, survival and body weights at metamorphosis compared to diets containing less protein.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1996 in Tennessee, USA found that tadpoles of upland chorus frogs Pseudacris triseriata feriarum had a higher body mass and reached a more advanced developmental stage when fed a control diet (rabbit chow and fish food) or freshwater algae, compared to those fed pine or oak pollen. Tadpoles fed only pine or oak pollen showed similar survival to the end of the experiment to those fed control or algae diets (at least 48 of 50 tadpoles survived per diet). However, tadpoles on the pine and oak pollen diets were unable to undergo metamorphosis. Average body mass was significantly higher at Day 18 and 27 for control diet and freshwater algae compared to pine or oak pollen (data reported as statistical model results). The development stage (Gosner scale) reached at Day 36 also differed: control diet (stage 40), freshwater algae (stage 38), oak pollen (stage 28) and pine pollen (stage 27). The control diet consisted of Purina rabbit chow pellets and flaked fish food (ratio 3:1). Pine and oak pollen are found naturally in the temporary ponds in which upland chorus frogs breed. Ten tadpoles were randomly assigned to each of twenty containers for five replicates of each diet. An additional 12 feeding treatments were carried out to test the effect of presenting the different diets sequentially over four nine-day periods.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A randomized, replicated study in 2009-2013 in Portugal found that rearing natterjack toad Epidalea calamita tadpoles on a diet containing 46% protein had higher survival, increase in body weight over time, and body weights at onset of metamorphosis compared to diets containing less protein. Tadpoles fed the highest protein content diet had significantly greater survival (46% protein: 19 of 25; 38% protein: 10 of 25; 32% protein: 15 of 25), increase in body weight (46% protein: 677%; 38% protein: 564%; 32% protein: 461%), and body weight at metamorphosis (46% protein: 0.10g; 38% protein: 0.09g; 32% protein: 0.09g). Tadpoles on the high protein diet also had significantly longer bodies and shorter tail fins (mean values not reported). Metamorphs on the high protein diet had significantly longer bodies, wider heads and wider hind legs (mean values not reported). However, there was no significant difference in tadpole total length (mean values not reported) or metamorph body weight (46% protein: 0.08g; 38% protein: 0.07g; 32% protein: 0.07g). Individually housed tadpoles were randomly allocated to three groups of 25 each and fed commercial diets with 46%, 38% or 32% protein content. A randomized block design was used with one replicate of each dietary treatment within every block.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Jonas, C.S., Timbrell, L.L., Young, F., Petrovan, S.O., Bowkett, A.E. & Smith, R.K. (2018) Management of Captive Animals. Pages 495-523 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

 

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Management of Captive Animals

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Management of Captive Animals
Management of Captive Animals

Management of Captive Animals - Published 2018

Captive Animal Synopsis

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation assesses the research looking at whether interventions are beneficial or not. It is based on summarised evidence in synopses, on topics such as amphibians, bats, biodiversity in European farmland, and control of freshwater invasive species. More are available and in progress.

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