Population Structure and Gene Flow in a Fragmented Habitat at DuPont State Forest: Implications for Management of the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus)

 

Daniel August
Presented: Spring 2015
Committee: JJ Apodaca, Mark Brenner, Paul Bartels

Habitat fragmentation from human development can dramatically alter landscapes and impact gene flow. Assessing population structure and gene flow within a landscape is essential for managing endangered species; conservation genetics is a tool that combines landscape ecology and population genetics used to inform wildlife management plans. Conservation genetic studies can reveal if isolated populations with low genetic variance are characteristic for a species or the result of habitat fragmentation. We used 7 microsatellite markers to investigate the impacts of habitat fragmentation on the Green salamander (Aneides aeneus), a state listed species. F-statistics was used to compare genetic differentiation of 140 individuals representing a population in DuPont State Forest. The fragmentations included: a power line clear cut, Sky Valley Road, the Little River and a tributary of the Little River. The genetic analysis revealed that the power line cut has a higher impact to gene flow than all other barriers. Our results suggest that habitat fragmentation negatively affected A. aeneus by reducing migration and promoting increased levels of inbreeding.