ABSTRACT

The Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) is a highly threatened frog species found in east-central Madagascar. They are seasonally active and difficult to observe outside the summer breeding season. We used a captive population maintained within the native range of the species to examine two aspects of life history that otherwise would be impracticable to observe in the field: sheltering behavior and nearest neighbor distance (NND). We made weekly observations on seven groups of frogs for 1 yr, recording NND of each individual and how many individuals were sheltering under cover. We also recorded whether eggs were present in terraria to better define the breeding season and determine how time of year relates to NND and sheltering behavior. Frogs were closer together and more often took shelter during cool winter months. This corresponds to the time of year when fewer egg clutches were recorded. There was no difference between NND and sheltering behavior in wild-caught vs. captive-bred frogs, and there was no significant difference between NND of males and females. Golden Mantellas may be at increased risk from infectious diseases because behavior that increases contact between infected individuals can facilitate disease transmission.

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