Comparative landscape genetics of two river frog species occurring at different elevations on Mount Kilimanjaro

Zancolli, G. and Rodel, M.O. and Steffan-Dewenter, I. and Storfer, A. (2014) Comparative landscape genetics of two river frog species occurring at different elevations on Mount Kilimanjaro. Molecular Ecology, 23 (20). pp. 4989-5002. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12921

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Estimating population connectivity and species' abilities to disperse across the landscape is crucial for understanding the long-term persistence of species in changing environments. Surprisingly, few landscape genetic studies focused on tropical regions despite the alarming extinction rates within these ecosystems. Here, we compared the influence of landscape features on the distribution of genetic variation of an Afromontane frog, Amietia wittei, with that of its more broadly distributed lowland congener, Amietia angolensis, on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. We predicted high gene flow in the montane species with movements enhanced through terrestrial habitats of the continuous rainforest. In contrast, dispersal might be restricted to aquatic corridors and reduced by anthropogenic disturbance in the lowland species. We found high gene flow in A. wittei relative to other montane amphibians. Nonetheless, gene flow was lower than in the lowland species which showed little population structure. Least-cost path analysis suggested that dispersal is facilitated by stream networks in both species, but different landscape features were identified to influence connectivity among populations. Contrary to a previous study, gene flow in the lowland species was negatively correlated with the presence of human settlements. Also, genetic subdivision in A. wittei did not coincide with specific physical barriers as in other landscape genetic studies, suggesting that factors other than topography may contribute to population divergence. Overall, these results highlight the importance of a comparative landscape genetic approach for assessing the influence of the landscape matrix on population connectivity, particularly because nonintuitive results can alter the course of conservation and management.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2015 03:19
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2015 02:53
ISSN: 0962-1083
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/3497
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1111/mec.12921
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
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