• allozymes;
  • Amazon;
  • amphibians;
  • Neotropics;
  • riverine barrier hypothesis


Patterns and levels of allozyme variation among populations of Amazonian frogs were used to test the riverine barrier hypothesis of species differentiation. Two frog species were sampled from each of the two main forest habitats on both banks of the Juruá River in the southwestern Brazilian Amazon Basin at various points along its course to contrast different barrier strengths. Scarthyla ostinodactyla and Scinax rubra were sampled from flooded forest (varzea), and Physalaemus petersi and Epipedobates femoralis from non-flooded forest (terra firme). All species showed high levels of within-population genetic variation. Average Nei's (1978) and Rogers’ (1972) genetic distances between sampled sites for all species were high indicating substantial among-population differentiation. The observation of low gene flow between sampled sites within species was further substantiated with Slatkin's (1993) M̂ analyses. Randomization tests suggested that there was some population structure at a few assayed polymorphic loci that was consistent with the riverine barrier hypothesis. However, it was apparent from the raw allozyme frequency data that these results were largely driven by substantial differentiation at one or a few collecting localities rather than by basin-wide patterns of riverine differentiation. Phenograms using genetic distance matrices supported this interpretation. Patterns of geographic variation are probably more consistent with the idea of this region being a zone of secondary contact.