Sexual conditioning in the dyeing poison dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius)
Gaalema, Diann E.
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Amphibian populations worldwide are currently in decline. One approach to preventing extinction of some of the affected species is to create assurance colonies. These sustainable captive populations might some day be used to reestablish wild populations. One issue with creating assurance colonies is successful breeding; often difficulties arise when attempting to breed exotic animals in captivity. Sexual conditioning, a form of Pavlovian conditioning, has been shown to improve breeding behavior. In this project the efficacy of sexual conditioning to improve breeding behavior in the dyeing dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) was tested. The frogs were trained with a stimulus that was either predictive of or independent of exposure to a member of the opposite sex. The group trained with the predictive stimulus showed shorter latencies to a variety of breeding behaviors and produced more eggs than the control groups. The sexual conditioning procedure also increased expression of various breeding behaviors allowing for careful examination of calls and visual signaling within this species.