Case report 7 - Montserrat mountain chicken (Leptodactylus fallax): Breeding, reintroduction and other conservation measures.
In: DOLLINGER, P. ed. (2007) Amphibien brauchen unsere Hilfe. Verhandlungsbericht des Amphiobienkurses gemeinsam organisiert mit den Zooverbänden im deutschsprachigen Raum. Chemnitz, 27.-30. Juni 2007. WAZA, Bern: S. 118.
Zusammenfassung der Powerpoint-Präsentation:
The mountain chicken is one of the most threatened amphibians in the world. Its range historically included up to seven, Eastern Caribbean islands but the species is now confined to the islands of Dominica and Montserrat. A combination of hunting, introduced predators and habitat loss was thought to have caused the extirpation of the species from the islands of Guadeloupe, St Kitts and Martinique around 500 years ago.
The wild populations on Montserrat were severely affected when the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted after a 350-year period of dormancy in 1995 and destroyed a significant part of its range. The species distribution on Montserrat has fallen to less than 17km2 and the increasingly toxic, acidified environment may have reduced juvenile survivorship and reproduction. The current status of the Montserrat population is unknown after renewed volcanic eruptions on 13th July 2003 covered the island in a thick layer of ash. Lately, 2005 and 2006 severe impact of the volcano affected the island again.
Chytrid fungus has been found on the populations of Mountain chickens in Dominica. Although no cases of chytrid disease have been reported in Montserrat, this island may also be at risk. If Montserrat is unaffected, frog populations on the island may be the last hope for the survival of the species.
In collaboration with the Government of Montserrat, Durrell Wildlife has initiated captive breeding of the species, and has also undertaken fieldwork to understand the animal in the wild.
We investigated the presence of disease on mountain chickens and the sympatric species within the Centre Hills in Montserrat. No chytrid or exposure to ranavirus was detected. We draw tentative conclusions about disease threats to the Montserrat mountain chicken population, and present preliminary recommendations for safeguarding this species.
A major biodiversity assessment effort led by Durrell, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Montserrat Government has been recently been completed and is aiding the management and declaration of the Centre Hills as a national park.