Using landscape genomics to delineate future adaptive potential for climate change in the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus)

Evolutionary Applications
By: , and 



An essential goal in conservation biology is delineating population units that maximize the probability of species persisting into the future and adapting to future environmental change. However, future-facing conservation concerns are often addressed using retrospective patterns that could be irrelevant. We recommend a novel landscape genomics framework for delineating future “Geminate Evolutionary Units” (GEUs) in a focal species: (1) identify loci under environmental selection, (2) model and map adaptive conservation units that may spawn future lineages, (3) forecast relative selection pressures on each future lineage, and (4) estimate their fitness and likelihood of persistence using geo-genomic simulations. Using this process, we delineated conservation units for the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus), a U.S. federally threatened species that is highly vulnerable to climate change. We used a genome-wide dataset, redundancy analysis, and Bayesian association methods to identify 24 candidate loci responding to climatic selection (R2 ranging from 0.09 to 0.52), after controlling for demographic structure. Candidate loci included genes such as MAP3K5, involved in cellular response to environmental change. We then forecasted future genomic response to climate change using the multivariate machine learning algorithm Gradient Forests. Based on all available evidence, we found three GEUs in Yosemite National Park, reflecting contrasting adaptive optima: YF-North (high winter snowpack with moderate summer rainfall), YF-East (low to moderate snowpack with high summer rainfall), and YF-Low-Elevation (low snowpack and rainfall). Simulations under the RCP 8.5 climate change scenario suggest that the species will decline by 29% over 90 years, but the highly diverse YF-East lineage will be least impacted for two reasons: (1) geographically it will be sheltered from the largest climatic selection pressures, and (2) its standing genetic diversity will promote a faster adaptive response. Our approach provides a comprehensive strategy for protecting imperiled non-model species with genomic data alone and has wide applicability to other declining species.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using landscape genomics to delineate future adaptive potential for climate change in the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus)
Series title Evolutionary Applications
DOI 10.1111/eva.13511
Volume 16
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 24 p.
First page 74
Last page 97
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details