Resolving distribution and population fragmentation in two leaf-tailed gecko species of north-east Australia: key steps in the conservation of microendemic species

Bertola, Lorenzo V., Higgie, Megan, and Hoskin, Conrad J. (2018) Resolving distribution and population fragmentation in two leaf-tailed gecko species of north-east Australia: key steps in the conservation of microendemic species. Australian Journal of Zoology, 66 (2). pp. 152-166.

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Abstract

North Queensland harbours many microendemic species. These species are of conservation concern due to their small and fragmented populations, coupled with threats such as fire and climate change. We aimed to resolve the distribution and population genetic structure in two localised Phyllurus leaf-tailed geckos: P. gulbaru and P. amnicola. We conducted field surveys to better resolve distributions, used Species Distribution Models (SDMs) to assess the potential distribution, and then used the SDMs to target further surveys. We also sequenced all populations for a mitochondrial gene to assess population genetic structure. Our surveys found additional small, isolated populations of both species, including significant range extensions. SDMs revealed the climatic and non-climatic variables that best predict the distribution of these species. Targeted surveys based on the SDMs found P. gulbaru at an additional two sites but failed to find either species at other sites, suggesting that we have broadly resolved their distributions. Genetic analysis revealed population genetic structuring in both species, including deeply divergent mitochondrial lineages. Current and potential threats are overlain on these results to determine conservation listings and identify management actions. More broadly, this study highlights how targeted surveys, SDMs, and genetic data can rapidly increase our knowledge of microendemic species, and direct management.

Item ID: 56759
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1446-5698
Copyright Information: © CSIRO 2018
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2019 07:40
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 100%
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