This study used indirect methods to estimate patterns of gene flow in a rare salamander species, the striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus). First, we used combined genetic and ecological methods to determine whether populations that appear to exist in two regions separated by 125 km, exhibited genetic and ecological distinctness such that the regions demarcate separate conservation units. Using mtDNA (cyt-b), we found that haplotypes were shared between localities within each region but none were shared between regions. Niche-based distribution modeling revealed significant differences in the ecological setting between the two regions. In combination, the absence of evidence for recent genetic exchange and model-based support for differing ecological conditions utilized by newts between regions provides evidence that eastern and western populations are both distinct and significant. This study suggests a framework to evaluate discreteness and significance among populations for assessment of distinct population segments (DPSs which can be used as a conservation tool for many species. Second, we used microsatellites to characterize patterns of population connectivity, genetic differentiation, and effective population size in N. perstriatus. We assessed these patterns by testing several a priori hypotheses regarding the influence of gene flow and genetic drift on the distribution of genetic variation among and within populations. Interestingly, several of our results did not conform to our hypotheses. For example, our assessment did not reveal a significant pattern of isolation by distance among populations in this study. Additionally, we found that effective population sizes and genetic diversity of isolated populations were higher than expected. We discuss our results relate to our a priori hypotheses and we address the general question of why this species exhibited patterns contrary to what we expected given previous data on this taxon and other studies of similar taxa.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
May, Sarah Elizabeth, "Indirect Estimates Of Gene Flow And Its Conservation Implications In The Striped Newt (notophthalmus Perstriatus)" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 1769.