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Genomic analyses reveal connectivity between Columbia spotted frogs from different watersheds, with potential to influence conservation strategies.

Nevada populations of the Columbia spotted frog occupy naturally fragmented aquatic habitats in the Great Basin. Treating those population fragments as individual conservation units can help managers address the conservation needs of species with large ranges. Because the Columbia spotted frog has not been included in previous genetic analyses, current conservation units are based on watershed boundaries. A team of researchers used genomic analyses, environmental data, and information on dispersal and site occupancy to evaluate the conservation units assigned to the Columbia spotted frog in Nevada. The researchers identified unexpected patterns of population connectivity and found that individuals from different watersheds interact and reproduce with each other. These results suggest that current conservation unit designations may need to be reconsidered to effectively manage this widespread desert amphibian.

Forester, B.R., Murphy, M.A., Mellison, C., Petersen, J., Pilliod, D.S., Van Horne, R., Harvey, J., and Funk, W.C., 2022, Genomics-informed delineation of conservation units in a desert amphibian: Molecular Ecology.

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