Testing theoretical metapopulation conditions with genotypic data from Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata)

Canadian Journal of Zoology
By: , and 



The metapopulation concept has far-reaching implications in ecology and conservation biology. Hanski’s criteria operationally define metapopulations, yet testing them is hindered by logistical and financial constraints inherent to the collection of long-term demographic data. Hence, ecologists and conservationists often assume metapopulation existence for dispersal-limited species that occupy patchy habitats. To advance understanding of metapopulation theory and improve conservation of metapopulations, we used population and landscape genetic tools to develop a methodological framework for evaluating Hanski’s criteria. We used genotypic data (11 microsatellite loci) from a purported metapopulation of Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata (Agassiz, 1850)) in Colorado, U.S.A., to test Hanski’s four criteria. We found support for each criterion: (1) significant genetic differentiation between wetlands, suggesting distinct breeding populations; (2) wetlands had small effective population sizes and recent bottlenecks, suggesting populations do not experience long-term persistence; (3) population graphs provided evidence of gene flow between patches, indicating potential for recolonization; and (4) multiscale bottleneck analyses suggest asynchrony, indicating that simultaneous extinction of all populations was unlikely. Our methodological framework provides a logistically and financially feasible alternative to long-term demographic data for identifying amphibian metapopulations.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Testing theoretical metapopulation conditions with genotypic data from Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata)
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/cjz-2018-0275
Volume 97
Issue 11
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Canadian Science Publishing
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 1042
Last page 1053
Country United States
State Colorado
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details