Distinctiveness of declining northern populations of Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi) justifies recovery efforts Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Peripheral populations of widespread species are often considered unworthy of conservation efforts; however, they may be adapted to the conditions found at the range edge and are therefore important to the future evolutionary potential of the species. Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris blanchardi Harper, 1947) is widespread and abundant throughout the central United States, but is declining at the northern edge of its range. To assess the distinctiveness and conservation value of the northern populations, we investigated the spatial genetic structure and phylogeography of this anuran using mitochondrial control region sequences. Analysis of 479 individuals identified 101 haplotypes, with relatively low nucleotide diversity. Two moderately divergent clades were found. One was restricted to the southwest, which was probably a refugium during the Pleistocene, whereas the other occurred primarily across the north and is likely the result of postglacial colonization. The genetic distinctiveness of northern populations indicates the potential for adaptive differences of individuals in this region relative to those in the south. We therefore conclude that conservation efforts are justified for the declining northern populations of Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, and we use the spatial genetic structure described here to develop specific recommendations for this anuran.

publication date

  • June 2010