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Keywords:

  • Amphibians;
  • effective breeding size;
  • genetic drift;
  • Hyla;
  • lek;
  • opportunity for selection;
  • sex chromosomes

Sexual selection in lek-breeding species might drastically lower male effective population size, with potentially important consequences for evolutionary and conservation biology. Using field-monitoring and parental-assignment methods, we analyzed sex-specific variances in breeding success in a population of European treefrogs, to (1) help understanding the dynamics of genetic variance at sex-specific loci, and (2) better quantify the risk posed by genetic drift in this species locally endangered by habitat fragmentation. The variance in male mating success turned out to be markedly lower than values obtained from other amphibian species with polygamous mating systems. The ratio of effective breeding size to census breeding size was only slightly lower in males (0.44) than in females (0.57), in line with the patterns of genetic diversity previously reported from H. arborea sex chromosomes. Combining our results with data on age at maturity and adult survival, we show that the negative effect of the mating system is furthermore compensated by the effect of delayed maturity, so that the estimated instantaneous effective size broadly corresponded to census breeding size. We conclude that the lek-breeding system of treefrogs impacts only weakly the patterns of genetic diversity on sex-linked genes and the ability of natural populations to resist genetic drift.