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Landscape genetics of a sub-alpine toad: Climate change predicted to induce upward range shifts via asymmetrical migration corridors

September 8, 2022

Climate change is expected to have a major hydrological impact on the core breeding habitat and migration corridors of many amphibians in the twenty-first century. The Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) is a species of meadow-specializing amphibian endemic to the high-elevation Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Despite living entirely on federal lands, it has recently faced severe extirpations, yet our understanding of climatic influences on population connectivity is limited. In this study, we used a previously published double-digest RADseq dataset along with numerous remotely sensed habitat features in a landscape genetics framework to answer two primary questions in Yosemite National Park: (1) Which fine-scale climate, topographic, soil, and vegetation features most facilitate meadow connectivity? (2) How is climate change predicted to influence both the magnitude and net asymmetry of genetic migration? We developed an approach for simultaneously modeling multiple toad migration paths, akin to circuit theory, except raw environmental features can be separately considered. Our workflow identified the most likely migration corridors between meadows and used the unique cubist machine learning approach to fit and forecast environmental models of connectivity. We identified the permuted modeling importance of numerous snowpack-related features, such as runoff and groundwater recharge. Our results highlight the importance of considering phylogeographic structure, and asymmetrical migration in landscape genetics. We predict an upward elevational shift for this already high-elevation species, as measured by the net vector of anticipated genetic movement, and a north-eastward shift in species distribution via the network of genetic migration corridors across the park.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Landscape genetics of a sub-alpine toad: Climate change predicted to induce upward range shifts via asymmetrical migration corridors
DOI 10.1038/s41437-022-00561-x
Authors Paul A. Maier, A. G. Vandergast, Steven M Ostoja, Andres Aguilar, Andrew J. Bohonak
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Heredity
Index ID 70238489
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center

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