Rangewide phylogeography of the western U.S. endemic frog Rana boylii (Ranidae): Implications for the conservation of frogs and rivers
Genetic data are increasingly being used in conservation planning for declining species. We sampled both the ecological and distributional limits of the foothill yellow-legged frog, Rana boylii to characterize mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation in this declining, riverine amphibian. We evaluated 1525 base pairs (bp) of cytochrome b and ND2 fragments for 77 individuals from 34 localities using phylogenetic and population genetic analyses. We constructed gene trees using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference, and quantified genetic variance (using AMOVA and partial Mantel tests) within and among hydrologic regions and river basins. Several moderately supported, geographically-cohesive mtDNA clades were recovered for R. boylii. While genetic variation was low among populations in the largest, most inclusive clade, samples from localities at the edges of the geographic range demonstrated substantial genetic divergence from each other and from more central populations. Hydrologic regions and river basins, which represent likely dispersal corridors for R. boylii, accounted for significant levels of genetic variation. These results suggest that both rivers and larger hydrologic and geographic regions should be used in conservation planning for R. boylii.
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