Conservation Genetics of the "Diablito" Poison Frog
Garces, Andres G 1986-
Human activity is the main responsible for the biodiversity decline causing high rates of species extinction. The last few decades genetic factors have played important roles in determining population viability and extinction risk. Therefore, the discipline of conservation genetics emerged, taking advantage of molecular genetics tools to assess variation and study the fate of populations which are defined and identified by their genetic constituency. It is estimated that one-third of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and Neotropical species of frogs are no exception. The populations of the Diablito poison frog (Oophaga sylvatica) have abruptly declined in the last few decades. As a result, this species almost extinct in the Southern Ecuadorian part of its range. To develop conservation actions, one needs to identify conservation units, by choosing or prioritizing genetically distinct and reproductively independent populations for protection. In this study, I used microsatellite and mithocondrial DNA datasets, combined with high resolution pictures and bioclimatic data to asses of the existence of any genetic, morphological and/or ecological boundaries, and to reconstruct the recent demography of the populations. My study reveled two mitochondrial lineages with significant intraspecific divergence in aposematic coloration patterns. Moreover, based on both genetic and ecological exchangeability criteria, I propose that Diablito frogs in Ecuador are best characterized as two single evolutionariy significant units. However, a better sampling and further analysis should be considered to settle the appropriate (IUCN) conservation status and conservation units in this charismatic species.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeTodd, Chris; Carvalho, Carlos
Copyright DateJune 2017