Refereed Article Low phylogeographic structure in a wide spread endangered Australian frog Litoria aurea (Anura: Hylidae)
Citation: Burns, E.L; Eldridge, M.D.B; Crayn, D.M; Houlden, B.A.. 2007. Low phylogeographic structure in a wide spread endangered Australian frog Litoria aurea (Anura: Hylidae). Conservation Genetics. 8. (1): 17-32.
The green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) has a widespread distribution along the south-east coast of Australia. The species range, however, is highly fragmented and remaining populations are predominately isolated and restricted to the coastline. Previously, the range extended further inland and the species was considered common. Here we report a study designed to identify the phylogeographic and conservation genetic parameters of L. aurea. Mitochondrial DNA sequences were examined from 263 individuals sampled from 26 locations using both phylogenetic and population analyses. Despite a general consensus that amphibians are highly structured we found no phylogeographic divisions within the species, however, there was significant structure amongst extant populations (Fst=0.385). Patterns of haplotype relatedness, high haplotypic diversity (mean h=0.547) relative to low nucleotide diversity (mean π=0.003) and mismatch distribution analysis supported a Pleistocene expansion hypothesis with continued restricted dispersal and gene flow. We conclude that the genetic structure of the species may permit `well managed' intervention to mediate gene flow amongst isolated populations and provide some guidelines for the implementation of such conservation strategies.
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