Conservation of the introgressed European water frog complex using molecular tools

Authors

  • G. HOLSBEEK,

    1. Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat, 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
    2. Laboratory of Animal Diversity and Systematics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat, 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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    • Contributed equally.

  • G. E. MAES,

    1. Laboratory of Animal Diversity and Systematics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat, 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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    • Contributed equally.

  • L. DE MEESTER,

    1. Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat, 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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  • F. A. M. VOLCKAERT

    1. Laboratory of Animal Diversity and Systematics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ch. Deberiotstraat, 32, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
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G. Holsbeek, Fax: 0032-16-324575; E-mail: Griet.Holsbeek@bio.kuleuven.be

Abstract

In Belgium, the Pelophylax esculentus complex has recently been subjected to multiple introductions of non-native water frogs, increasing the occurrence of hybridisation events. In the present study, we tested the reliability of morphometric and recently developed microsatellite tools to identify introgression and to determine the origin of exotic Belgian water frogs. By analysing 150 individuals of each taxon of the P. esculentus complex and an additional 60 specimens of the introduced P. cf. bedriagae, we show that neither of the currently available tools appears to have sufficient power to reliably distinguish all Belgian water frog species. We therefore aimed at increasing the discriminatory power of a microsatellite identification tool by developing a new marker panel with additional microsatellite loci. By adding only two new microsatellite loci (RlCA5 and RlCA1b20), all taxa of the P. esculentus complex could be distinguished from each other with high confidence. Three more loci (Res3, Res5 and Res17) provided a powerful discrimination of the exotic species.

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