The Use of eDNA to Evaluate and Monitor the Golden Tree Frog (Phytotriades auratus) Population

Trinidad

The extraction and identification of DNA from environmental samples (eDNA) has recently shown great potential for the monitoring of endangered and elusive species. The endemic Trindad Golden Frog (Phytotriades auratus) is considered critically endangered based on its restricted geographical range and decline of its habitat. The distribution of this species is intimately linked to the endemic bromeliad Glomeropitcainia erectiflora, and the phytotelma of this species are the only known habitat of this species and its larvae. Current surveying methods for auratus require the destructive sampling of the bromeliads and as a result there has been no systematic survey of P. auratus in over 20 years. P. auratus is found in only two locations in Trinidad – above 600 metres on the peaks of El Tucuche andCerro del Aripo.

We have designed and developed a PCR based assay for auratus using eDNA as a template. This assay is a robust, discriminatory, and species-specific assay for use with eDNA templates with a sensitivity of >100 ng of DNA per litre of water. We would therefore like to use the 2015 field season to non-destructively sample G. erectiflora phytotelmata on El Tucuche and Cerro del Aripo as a proof of concept study using P. auratus, before a more detailed and extensive analysis in 2016. If this approach is successful, it has great potential for surveying many species of rare/elusive phytotelmata-associated amphibians.

Funding Needs

If you would like to further support this project or invest in the Amphibian Survival Alliance’s Seed Grant program please contact Candace M. Hansen-Hendrikx, Director of Communications and Partnerships.

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Fast Facts

Dr Paul A Hoskisson and Phyllomedusa trinitatis

Location
Trinidad

Project Description
The team from the University of Strathclyde and University of Glasgow will use eDNA approaches to non-destructively sample and test the phytotelmata of the endemic Trinidad bromeliad (Glomeropitcainia erectiflora) for the elusive and endangered, endemic Golden Tree Frog (Phytotriades auratus) with a view to conducting the first systematic population assessment for almost 20 years.

Target Species
Golden Tree Frog (Phytotriades auratus) – IUCN Red List Critically Endangered

Team Members
Dr Paul A Hoskisson, (Project leader) University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK
Email: paul.hoskisson@strath.ac.uk Twitter: @paulhoskisson

Ms Eleanor Gourevitch (Joint Expedition Leader, Undergraduate Student-Field Assistant) University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Prof. Roger Downie, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Mr Mark Greener (Joint Expedition Leader), University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Mr Thomas Burns (Postgraduate expedition advisor), University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Mr Mike Rutherford, Curator of the Zoology Museum, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad.

Partner Organizations

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.

University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

Zoology Museum, University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad.

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