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Gene pool boundaries for the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) reveal asymmetrical migration within meadow neighborhoods

April 1, 2022

The Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus [Bufo] canorus) is a federally threatened species of meadow-specializing amphibian endemic to the high-elevation Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The species is one of the first amphibians to undergo a large demographic collapse that was well-documented, and is reputed to remain in low abundance throughout its range. Recent phylogeographic work has demonstrated that Pleistocene toad lineages diverged and then admixed to differing extents across an elevational gradient. Although lineage divisions may have significant effects on evolutionary trajectories over large spatial and temporal scales, present-day population dynamics must be delineated in order to manage and conserve the species effectively. In this study, we used a double-digest RADseq dataset to address three primary questions: (1) Are single meadows or neighborhoods of nearby meadows most correlated with population boundaries? (2) Does asymmetrical migration occur among neighborhoods of nearby meadows? (3) What topographic or hydrological variables predict such asymmetrical migration in these meadow neighborhoods? Hierarchical STRUCTURE and AMOVA analyses suggested that populations are typically circumscribed by a single meadow, although 84% of meadows exist in neighborhoods of at least two meadows connected by low levels of migration, and over half (53%) of neighborhoods examined display strong asymmetrical migration. Meadow neighborhoods often contain one or more large and flat “hub” meadows that experience net immigration, surrounded by smaller and topographically rugged “satellite” meadows with net emigration. Hubs tend to contain more genetic diversity and could be prioritized for conservation and habitat management and as potential sources for reestablishment efforts.

Publication Year 2022
Title Gene pool boundaries for the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) reveal asymmetrical migration within meadow neighborhoods
DOI 10.3389/fcosc.2022.851676
Authors Paul A. Maier, A. G. Vandergast, Steven M. Ostoja, Andres Aguilar, Andrew J. Bohonak
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Conservation Science
Index ID 70232524
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center