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Monday, April 9 • 5:30pm - 7:00pm
POSTER: A Genetic and Ecological Analysis of a Disjunct Amphibian Population in Southern Texas

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AUTHORS: Amanda Chunco*, Emma Nault – Elon University; Rebecca Silverman, Amber Rice – Lehigh University

ABSTRACT: Range disjunctions are commonly seen across many taxonomic groups, and can result either from a dispersal event or local extinctions across part of the range. The loss of connectivity that occurs with range disjunctions can have important ecological and evolutionary implications for a species including increased vulnerability to extinction, increased potential for local adaptation, and even speciation over geologic time scales. Yet, the cause of disjunctions, and the consequences that result from disjunctions, are rarely understood. Here, we investigate a range disjunction in the Plains spadefoot toad, Spea bombifrons, in the continental US. This species is common throughout most of the Midwest and also has a disjunct population in southern Texas more than 400 km away from the rest of the range. We combine ecological niche model and population genetic analyses to determine the ecological and genetic distance between these populations. Despite significant differences in ecological niche space, the isolated population shows almost no genetic differentiation from the rest of the population. This suggests the South Texas population is relatively recent in origin, and its small estimated population size also suggests it is very likely at high risk of extinction. Our work further has implications for ecological niche modeling; although most studies that use niche modeling consider all known occurrences as within a single population, modeling disjunct populations independently can have radically different results, and thus different implications for conservation.

Monday April 9, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm CDT
Monroe Room

Attendees (3)