Assisted Breeding of Skinks or How to Teach a Lizard Old Tricks!

Frank Molinia, Trent Bell, Grant Norbury, Alison Cree, Dianne Gleeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Reproductive technologies are invaluable tools for understanding how different species reproduce. Contemporary techniques like artificial insemination established long ago in livestock have been used to assist the breeding of threatened species ex situ, even restoring them to nature. Key to successfully adapting these technologies, often to few numbers of endangered animals, is initial testing and development of procedures in a taxonomically related model species. McCann’s Skink (Oligosoma maccanni) is a viviparous lizard that is still relatively abundant and its reproductive cycle in the subalpine area of Macraes Flat in southern New Zealand has recently been described. Assisted breeding techniques are being developed in this skink as a model for threatened lizard species, such as the Grand Skink (Oligosoma grande) and Otago Skink (Oligosoma otagense). Progress on methods to collect, assess and store sperm, and artificial insemination are reported here. These techniques will need refinement to be effectively adapted to threatened lizards but will significantly increase our knowledge of their unique reproductive mechanisms. In the longer term they are expected to improve substantially captive breeding success and will be vital tools to aid genetic management of animals bred for release to restored ecosystems and secure genetic repositories for future restoration needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-319
Number of pages9
JournalHerpetological Conservation and Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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