Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot supporting nearly unparalleled amphibian species richness, diversity, and endemism. Graduate student Devin Edmonds has been involved in frog conservation in Madagascar for many years.
One of the island’s most threatened amphibian species is the Harlequin Mantella (Mantella cowanii), a small black and orange poisonous frog known from only four isolated locations where little habitat remains. In December 2018, a conservation planning workshop was held with Malagasy authorities, local communities, academia, and NGOs. The result was the launch of the Mantella cowanii Action Plan which lays out a blueprint for the steps needed to ensure the species survival.
Devin’s research focuses on addressing two high priority research actions called for in the new Action Plan:
- estimating demographic traits and population dynamics parameters
- assessing the genetic diversity remaining within and between populations.
As part of the project, he plans to explore the costs and benefits of different survey methodologies for local site managers, generate baseline data on population status across the species range, and examine the effects of hybridization with a syntopic widespread species. The results will be used to guide conservation efforts and provide a basis for monitoring populations in the future.