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.
|Title||Testing theoretical metapopulation conditions with genotypic data from Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata)|
|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 Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Canadian Journal of Zoology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Fort Collins Science Center|