As a pilot project, LIFE-3n bullfrog has several ambitious main goals:
Naturally, the main goal is to test the novel strategy of releasing sterile triploid frogs as a means of population control. Hopefully the technique will help to halt the spread of bullfrogs in Flanders and reduce population sizes in existing populations. This novel technique will always be combined with traditional eradication efforts.
After several years of research, scientists of the PXL University have succeeded in breeding sterile triploid frogs. These sterile tadpoles will first be housed in specialized enclosures, where they will develop into juvenile frogs. Later they are transported to a second set of ecnlosures in the Scheps nature reserve, where they can mature into adult frogs and later compete with fertile bullfrogs that are already present. Thanks to careful monitoring of the released frogs by PXL scientists, we will be able to assess how effective the technique is at reducing population sizes of American bullfrogs in Flanders.
Using sterile animals to control population size is a technique that is already being used successfully with insects. This project is the first global experiment for population management in aquatic vertebrate animals. It is therefore of great importance that the results of this project are shared with other organizations in Europe, so that the technique can eventually be applied in other areas where the bullfrog is a problem.
Considering this technique is completely new for amphibians, we will investigate possible policy and legal barriers to the use of this technique in invasive species control and its further application for other invasive alien species.
A final, but certainly no less important objective is to inform the general public about the importance of nature conservation, the impact that invasive alien species can have on nature and the importance of using innovative methods to combat invasive alien species. Getting public support for this project and other future projects is essential for the viability of nature conservation, both inside and outside Belgium.