This course will help increase your knowledge and skills in this field.
Increase your employment opportunities with this fantastic herpetology course.
Why do we need to study Reptiles and Amphibians?
These animals are an integral part of the same ecosystems that man occupies. Disturbing the ecology of the world can impact upon other plants and animals in ways we don't even understand. Understanding herps can help us understand how their existence impacts upon our own well being; and the well being of environments which we may need; or at the very least, may value in other ways.
There are many conservation programs in place to protect reptiles and amphibians all over the world. These can range from habitat protection to relocation, captive breeding and genetics research.
Conservation Genetics is the combination of the studies of ecology, genetic variation, molecular biology, mathematical modelling and evolutionary taxonomy. At the centre of this study is the knowledge of population genetics. Genetic variation is essential to the breeding success and future existence of populations. Some species have high genetic variation whilst others have low genetic variation.
The knowledge of a population’s genetic variation is important in conservation biology to help manage endangered populations of reptiles and amphibians. There can be three causes of low genetic variation – inbreeding, genetic drift and genetic neighbourhoods (the size of an area in which mates can be chosen at random). Reduced genetic variation can greatly inhibit the growth of a population and can threaten the recovery of endangered species.
With advances in molecular technology, genetics studies can now be undertaken with minimal interference with reptiles and amphibians. This technology can help conservation geneticists identify populations which can help in their management. They can also help identify conservation priorities based on distinct evolutionary lines.
With regards to trade in reptiles and amphibians, genetic markers can be used to trace the location from which an individual originated.
Examples of Conservation Programs
Freshwater Turtle Conservation
Freshwater turtles are under threat due to habitat modification, pollution, and capture for food, medical reasons and incidental trapping. Many countries have lost a large proportion of their freshwater turtles due to these impacts. There are many programs running around the world to protect freshwater turtles such as the Red River Giant Softshell Turtle, the Bog Turtle, the Southeast Asian Giant Softshell Turtle and the Mary River Turtle of Australia. These conservation programs involve monitoring of individuals and populations, habitat enhancement and in some cases, captive breeding programs.
Komodo Dragon Conservation
The Komodo Dragon of Indonesia is highly endangered due to habitat loss from increased pressure on forest and water resources. To aid its conservation, Komodo National Park was established to protect both the dragon and its habitat. This conservation of habitat works in conjunction with careful monitoring of individuals in the population to ensure their survival.
Corroboree Frog Conservation
The Corroboree Frog is native to the sub-alpine region of Kosciuszko National Park, Australia. Threats to the frog include damage of breeding sites by feral animals, disease infection such as the Chytrid Fungus, weed invasion and habitat destruction through forestry practices. The Department of Environment is working in conjunction with Taronga Zoo to increase population numbers of the frog. They have a captive breeding program in place, put in place measures to protect breeding sites and have initiated a weed control program.