Integrating biobanking could produce significant cost benefits and minimise inbreeding for Australian amphibian captive breeding programs

Lachlan G. Howell*, Peter R. Mawson, Richard Frankham, John C. Rodger, Rose M. O. Upton, Ryan R. Witt, Natalie E. Calatayud, Simon Clulow, John Clulow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Captive breeding is an important tool for amphibian conservation despite high economic costs and deleterious genetic effects of sustained captivity and unavoidably small colony sizes. Integration of biobanking and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) could provide solutions to these challenges, but is rarely used due to lack of recognition of the potential benefits and clear policy direction. Here we present compelling genetic and economic arguments to integrate biobanking and ARTs into captive breeding programs using modelled captive populations of two Australian threatened frogs, namely the orange-bellied frog Geocrinia vitellina and the white bellied frog Geocrinia alba. Back-crossing with frozen founder spermatozoa using ARTs every generation minimises rates of inbreeding and provides considerable reductions in colony size and program costs compared with conventional captive management. Biobanking could allow captive institutions to meet or exceed longstanding genetic retention targets (90% of source population heterozygosity over 100 years). We provide a broad policy direction that could make biobanking technology a practical reality across Australia's ex situ management of amphibians in current and future holdings. Incorporating biobanking technology widely across this network could deliver outcomes by maintaining high levels of source population genetic diversity and freeing economic resources to develop ex situ programs for a greater number of threatened amphibian species.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 CSIRO Open Access.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • anuran
  • artificial reproductive technologies
  • captive survival-assurance colonies
  • cryopreservation
  • frog
  • genome resource banking
  • IVF

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