Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics of Gopher Frogs, Rana capito and Rana sevosa

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

Unprecedented growth in the human population has had an indelible impact on the natural landscape. This growth has had serious consequences for many organisms as habitats have been lost and fragmented. Two species of gopher frogs indigenous to the southeastern coastal plain have lost populations throughout much of their natural range. One species, Rana capito, has scattered populations across its fairly wide range and is listed as a species of concern in several states. Another species, Rana sevosa, has been reduced to two small natural populations found only in Mississippi and 4 captive populations in zoos. R. sevosa is listed as federally endangered. Both species require intervention to conserve their numbers. The objectives of this research were 1) to assess the degree of genetic variability and similarity across the range of R. capito and 2) to determine and compare the genetic variability of the two remaining natural populations to the captive populations of R. sevosa. Genetic analyses were performed by genotyping individuals of each population for six microsatellite DNA loci for R. sevosa and one mitochondrial DNA region for R. capito. Genetic variability was analyzed to determine the amount and similarity of genetic variation among populations of R. capito and to determine the interrelatedness of the natural populations of R. sevosa populations as compared to the captive populations. These data will be utilized to understand the current genetic variation of these species with the goal of preserving and enhancing natural population genetic variation.

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Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics of Gopher Frogs, Rana capito and Rana sevosa

Unprecedented growth in the human population has had an indelible impact on the natural landscape. This growth has had serious consequences for many organisms as habitats have been lost and fragmented. Two species of gopher frogs indigenous to the southeastern coastal plain have lost populations throughout much of their natural range. One species, Rana capito, has scattered populations across its fairly wide range and is listed as a species of concern in several states. Another species, Rana sevosa, has been reduced to two small natural populations found only in Mississippi and 4 captive populations in zoos. R. sevosa is listed as federally endangered. Both species require intervention to conserve their numbers. The objectives of this research were 1) to assess the degree of genetic variability and similarity across the range of R. capito and 2) to determine and compare the genetic variability of the two remaining natural populations to the captive populations of R. sevosa. Genetic analyses were performed by genotyping individuals of each population for six microsatellite DNA loci for R. sevosa and one mitochondrial DNA region for R. capito. Genetic variability was analyzed to determine the amount and similarity of genetic variation among populations of R. capito and to determine the interrelatedness of the natural populations of R. sevosa populations as compared to the captive populations. These data will be utilized to understand the current genetic variation of these species with the goal of preserving and enhancing natural population genetic variation.