Limited influence of local and landscape factors on finescale gene flow in two pond-breeding amphibians.

Academic Article


  • Dispersal and gene flow within animal populations are influenced by the composition and configuration of the landscape. In this study, we evaluated hypotheses about the impact of natural and anthropogenic factors on genetic differentiation in two amphibian species, the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) and the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) in a commercial forest in central Maine. We conducted this analysis at two scales: a local level, focused on factors measured at each breeding pond, and a landscape level, focused on factors measured between ponds. We investigated the effects of a number of environmental factors in six categories including Productivity, Physical, Land Composition, Land Configuration, Isolation and Location. Embryos were sampled from 56 spotted salamander breeding ponds and 39 wood frog breeding ponds. We used a hierarchical Bayesian approach in the program GESTE at each breeding pond and a random forest algorithm in conjunction with a network analysis between the ponds. We found overall high genetic connectivity across distances up to 17 km for both species and a limited effect of natural and anthropogenic factors on gene flow. We found the null models best explained patterns of genetic differentiation at a local level and found several factors at the landscape level that weakly influenced gene flow. This research indicates multiscale investigations that incorporate local and landscape factors are valuable for understanding patterns of gene flow. Our findings suggest that dispersal rates in this system are high enough to minimize genetic structuring and that current forestry practices do not significantly impede dispersal.
  • Authors

  • Coster, Stephanie S
  • Babbitt, Kimberly
  • Cooper, Andrew
  • Kovach, Adrienne
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 2015
  • Published In

  • Molecular Ecology  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Algorithms
  • Ambystoma
  • Ambystoma maculatum
  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Ecosystem
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetics, Population
  • Lithobates sylvaticus
  • Maine
  • Models, Genetic
  • Ponds
  • Ranidae
  • functional connectivity
  • landscape genetics
  • multiple scales
  • network analysis
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 25580642
  • Start Page

  • 742
  • End Page

  • 758
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 4