Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Rashidah Farid - Alabama A&M University
Co-Author(s): Khairy M. Soliman and Yong Wang, Alabama A&M University
Populations of many amphibian species have declined because of habitat destruction, fragmentation, and alteration. In a forest community that has experienced dynamic changes in habitat structure and composition, it is expected that amphibian populations’ genetic variations could be affected due to declined success of breeding and survivorship, which might lead to the bottleneck effect over multiple generations. A study was initiated at Bankhead National Forest in Alabama to examine how past forest management practices have affected genetic structures of pool-breeding amphibian species.
Molecular markers simple sequence repeats (SSR) were used to assess the level of heterozygosity among and within individual populations and species in the area of study. Five vernal pools of different size and disturbance history were selected and tissue samples were collected from two targeted species: Ambystoma maculatum and Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens. Heterozygosity of Ambystoma maculatum populations ranges from 35-55%, with inbreed coefficient not exceeding 55%. However, homozygosity was highly prevalent in all Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens populations. All three populations of Eastern Red Newt exhibited bottleneck events; allele frequency (0-0.22) was lowest in the first distribution class. Two populations of Spotted Salamander exhibited bottleneck events; allele frequencies were 0 and 0.21. The results provided a glimpse into the landscape’s genetic connectivity and created a baseline for future genetic monitoring studies of these species. KEY WORDS: salamanders, gene drift, habitat fragmentation, bottleneck.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,