Microsatellite variation and population structure in a declining Australian Hylid Litoria aurea

Emma L. Burns, Mark D B Eldridge, Bronwyn A. Houlden

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54 Citations (Scopus)


The green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) was once a common Australian Hylid. Today, many populations are small and fragmented as a result of dramatic declines in distribution and abundance. We undertook a large-scale assessment of genetic structure and diversity in L. aurea using four species-specific microsatellite markers. Twenty-one locations were sampled from throughout the species range covering 1000 km of the east coast of Australia. Levels of allelic diversity and heterozygosity were high (uncorrected mean alleles/locus and H E were 4.8-8.8 and 0.43-0.8, respectively) compared to other amphibian species and significant differences among sampled sites were recorded. Despite recent population declines, no sites displayed a genetic signature indicative of a population bottleneck. Significant genetic structuring (overall F ST 0.172) was detected throughout the species range, but was relatively low compared to previous amphibian studies employing microsatellites. In addition we found that some areas sampled within continuous habitat showed evidence of weak genetic structuring (data subset F ST 0.034). We conclude that maintaining areas of continuous habitat is critical to the conservation of the species and argue that population recovery and /or persistence in all areas sampled is possible if appropriate protection and management are afforded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1745-1757
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


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