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The genetics of amphibian declines: population substructure and molecular differentiation in the Yosemite Toad, Bufo canorus (Anura, Bufonidae) based on single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis (SSCP) and mitochondrial DNA sequence data

Authors

  • H. Bradley Shaffer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Evolution and Ecology, and Center for Population Biology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616,
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  • Gary M. Fellers,

    1. Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes, CA 94956,
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  • Allison Magee,

    1. Section of Evolution and Ecology, and Center for Population Biology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616,
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  • S. Randal Voss

    1. Section of Evolution and Ecology, and Center for Population Biology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616,
    2. Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523
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H. Bradley Shaffer. Fax: +1-530-752-1449; E-mail: hbshaffer@ucdavis.edu

Abstract

We present a comprehensive survey of genetic variation across the range of the narrowly distributed endemic Yosemite toad Bufo canorus, a declining amphibian restricted to the Sierra Nevada of California. Based on 322 bp of mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence data, we found limited support for the monophyly of B. canorus and its closely related congener B. exsul to the exclusion of the widespread western toad B. boreas. However, B. exsul was always phylogenetically nested within B. canorus, suggesting that the latter may not be monophyletic. SSCP (single-strand conformation polymorphism) analysis of 372 individual B. canorus from 28 localities in Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks revealed no shared haplotypes among these two regions and lead us to interpret these two parks as distinct management units for B. canorus. Within Yosemite, we found significant genetic substructure both at the level of major drainages and among breeding ponds. Kings Canyon samples show a different pattern, with substantial variation among breeding sites, but no substructure among drainages. Across the range of B. canorus as well as among Yosemite ponds, we found an isolation-by-distance pattern suggestive of a stepping stone model of migration. However, in Kings Canyon we found no hint of such a pattern, suggesting that movement patterns of toads may be quite different in these nearby parklands. Our data imply that management for B. canorus should focus at the individual pond level, and effective management may necessitate reintroductions if local extirpations occur. A brief review of other pond-breeding anurans suggests that highly structured populations are often the case, and thus that our results for B. canorus may be general for other species of frogs and toads.

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