How spatio-temporal habitat connectivity affects amphibian genetic structure

Frontiers in Genetics
By: , and 



Heterogeneous landscapes and fluctuating environmental conditions can affect species dispersal, population genetics, and genetic structure, yet understanding how biotic and abiotic factors affect population dynamics in a fluctuating environment is critical for species management. We evaluated how spatio-temporal habitat connectivity influences dispersal and genetic structure in a population of boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata) using a landscape genetics approach. We developed gravity models to assess the contribution of various factors to the observed genetic distance as a measure of functional connectivity. We selected (a) wetland (within-site) and (b) landscape matrix (between-site) characteristics; and (c) wetland connectivity metrics using a unique methodology. Specifically, we developed three networks that quantify wetland connectivity based on: (i) P. maculata dispersal ability, (ii) temporal variation in wetland quality, and (iii) contribution of wetland stepping-stones to frog dispersal. We examined 18 wetlands in Colorado, and quantified 12 microsatellite loci from 322 individual frogs. We found that genetic connectivity was related to topographic complexity, within- and between-wetland differences in moisture, and wetland functional connectivity as contributed by stepping-stone wetlands. Our results highlight the role that dynamic environmental factors have on dispersal-limited species and illustrate how complex asynchronous interactions contribute to the structure of spatially-explicit metapopulations.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title How spatio-temporal habitat connectivity affects amphibian genetic structure
Series title Frontiers in Genetics
DOI 10.3389/fgene.2015.00275
Volume 6
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Frontiers Research Foundation
Publisher location Lausanne
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description Article 275: 13 p.
Country United States
State Colorado
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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