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Conservation genetic analysis of a Central-European range-margin population of the yellow-bellied toad (Bombina v. variegata)

Weihmann, Frank, Weihmann, Silvia, Weihmann, Tom
Conservation genetics 2019 v.20 no.3 pp. 557-569
endangered species, genetic analysis, genetic variation, genotyping, heterozygosity, microsatellite repeats, pioneer species, toads, Germany
The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic structure and diversity of populations of the yellow-bellied toad in Lower Saxony, Germany. These populations provide a good example of a fragmented distribution of amphibian pioneer species on the outer rim of their occurrence. In total, 150 individuals from 11 sites were genotyped using ten highly polymorphic microsatellites. The genetic diversity, as measured by allelic richness and heterozygosity, was lower than that of other European amphibian populations; the individuals could be assigned to five genetic clusters. The average genetic differentiation between populations was very high (mean FST = 0.27) and no migration was detected between the two major populations, which were about 50 km apart. Nonetheless, natural migration as well as translocations between some subpopulations could be detected. In one population, which was introduced in the 1970s, we were able to verify the potential source population of the introduced toads. The results are discussed in light of conservation management strategies applied to this highly endangered species.