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Conservation Genetics of Remnant Northern Leopard Frog Populations in Western Nevada
AdvisorPeacock, Mary M.
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The northern leopard frog (Rana [Lithobates] pipiens) has undergone significant declines across its range, particularly in the western U.S. and Canada. Nevada has lost populations of this frog largely due to habitat fragmentation and the introduction of non-native species. Only two populations are known in western Nevada. An 812 base pair fragment of the mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase 1 gene was sequenced to assess whether these frogs were native to Nevada or transplanted from populations in eastern United States. Seven polymorphic microsatellite loci were then used to assess genetic structure and diversity of these two extant populations of leopard frog in western Nevada. These populations are geographically isolated from each other and highly differentiated genetically. An analysis of color polymorphism differences between the two natural populations further support the conclusion of isolation. However, high levels of gene diversity are currently being maintained despite their isolation. The maintenance of genetic variation suggests these populations can be used as donor populations in restoration activities in western Nevada.