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Keywords:

  • amphibian reproduction;
  • carotenoids;
  • captive breeding;
  • Dendrobates pumilio;
  • Dendrobatidae

Abstract

Amphibians are currently experiencing the most severe declines in biodiversity of any vertebrate, and their requirements for successful reproduction are poorly understood. Here, we show that supplementing the diet of prey items (fruit flies) with carotenoids has strong positive effects on the reproduction of captive strawberry poison frogs (Oophaga pumilio), substantially increasing the number of metamorphs produced by pairs. This improved reproduction most likely arose via increases in the quality of both the fertilized eggs from which tadpoles develop and trophic eggs that are fed to tadpoles by mothers. Frogs in this colony had previously been diagnosed with a Vitamin A deficiency, and this supplementation may have resolved this issue. These results support growing evidence of the importance of carotenoids in vertebrate reproduction and highlight the nuanced ways in which nutrition constrains captive populations. Zoo Biol. 32:655–658, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.