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Keywords:

  •  conservation;
  • frog;
  • peripheral populations;
  • population supplementation;
  • Rana pipiens;
  • range contraction

Abstract

This study tested whether low genetic diversity in remnant populations of a declining amphibian is best explained by recent bottlenecks or by a history of being peripheral. We compared diversity from eight microsatellite loci in historical and extant populations from the interior and former periphery of the species’ range. We found that historic peripheral populations already had reduced levels of genetic variation before the range contraction. Therefore, low diversity in remnants could not be ascribed to recent range contractions. This study shows that a common conservation strategy for rescuing genetically depauperate populations, artificial gene flow, may often be unwarranted and detrimental to evolutionarily important peripheral populations.