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Complex spatial dynamics maintain northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) genetic diversity in a temporally varying landscape

Herpetological Conservation and Biology

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Abstract

In contrast to most local amphibian populations, northeastern populations of the Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) have displayed uncharacteristically high levels of genetic diversity that have been attributed to large, stable populations. However, this widely distributed species also occurs in areas known for great climatic fluctuations that should be reflected in corresponding fluctuations in population sizes and reduced genetic diversity. To test our hypothesis that Northern Leopard Frog genetic diversity would be reduced in areas subjected to significant climate variability, we examined the genetic diversity of L. pipiens collected from 12 sites within the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. Despite the region's fluctuating climate that includes periods of recurring drought and deluge, we found unexpectedly high levels of genetic diversity approaching that of northeastern populations. Further, genetic structure at a landscape scale was strikingly homogeneous; genetic differentiation estimates (Dest) averaged 0.10 (SD = 0.036) across the six microsatellite loci we studied, and two Bayesian assignment tests (STRUCTURE and BAPS) failed to reveal the development of significant population structure across the 68 km breadth of our study area. These results suggest that L. pipiens in the Prairie Pothole Region consists of a large, panmictic population capable of maintaining high genetic diversity in the face of marked climate variability.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Complex spatial dynamics maintain northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) genetic diversity in a temporally varying landscape
Series title:
Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Volume
8
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Contributing office(s):
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description:
13 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
163
Last page:
175
Country:
United States
State:
North Dakota