Temporal Trends in Genetic Data and Effective Population Size Support Efficacy of Management Practices in Critically Endangered Dusky Gopher Frogs (Lithobates sevosus)
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Monitoring temporal changes in population genetic diversity and effective population size can provide vital information on future viability. The dusky gopher frog, Lithobates sevosus, is a critically endangered species found only in coastal Mississippi, with low genetic variability as a consequence of isolation and population size reduction. Conservation management practices have been implemented, but their efficacy has not been addressed. We genotyped individuals collected 1997–2014 to determine temporal trends in population genetic variation, structure, and effective size. Observed and expected heterozygosity and allelic richness revealed temporally stable, but low, levels of genetic variation. Positive levels of inbreeding were found in each year. There was weak genetic structure among years, which can be attributed to increased effects of genetic drift and inbreeding in small populations. L. sevosus exhibited an increase in effective population size, and currently has an estimated effective size of 33.0–58.6 individuals, which is approximately half the census size. This large ratio could possibly be explained by genetic compensation. We found that management practices have been effective at maintaining and improving effective size and genetic diversity, but that additional strategies need to be implemented to enhance viability of the species.
Hinkson, Kristen M. and Richter, Stephen C., "Temporal Trends in Genetic Data and Effective Population Size Support Efficacy of Management Practices in Critically Endangered Dusky Gopher Frogs (Lithobates sevosus)" (2016). EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship. 651.
Ecology and Evolution