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Testing theoretical metapopulation conditions with genotypic data from Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata)

October 25, 2019

The metapopulation concept has far-reaching implications in ecology and conservation biology. Hanski’s criteria operationally define metapopulations, yet testing them is hindered by logistical and financial constraints inherent to the collection of long-term demographic data. Hence, ecologists and conservationists often assume metapopulation existence for dispersal-limited species that occupy patchy habitats. To advance understanding of metapopulation theory and improve conservation of metapopulations, we used population and landscape genetic tools to develop a methodological framework for evaluating Hanski’s criteria. We used genotypic data (11 microsatellite loci) from a purported metapopulation of Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata (Agassiz, 1850)) in Colorado, U.S.A., to test Hanski’s four criteria. We found support for each criterion: (1) significant genetic differentiation between wetlands, suggesting distinct breeding populations; (2) wetlands had small effective population sizes and recent bottlenecks, suggesting populations do not experience long-term persistence; (3) population graphs provided evidence of gene flow between patches, indicating potential for recolonization; and (4) multiscale bottleneck analyses suggest asynchrony, indicating that simultaneous extinction of all populations was unlikely. Our methodological framework provides a logistically and financially feasible alternative to long-term demographic data for identifying amphibian metapopulations.

Publication Year 2019
Title Testing theoretical metapopulation conditions with genotypic data from Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata)
DOI 10.1139/cjz-2018-0275
Authors S. M. Billerman, B. R. Jesmer, A. G. Watts, P. Schlichting, M. Fortin, W. C. Funk, P. Hapeman, Erin L. Muths, M. Murphy
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Canadian Journal of Zoology
Index ID 70216099
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center