Conservation genomics reveals fine-scale population structuring and recent declines in the Critically Endangered Australian Kuranda Treefrog

Bertola, Lorenzo V., Higgie, Megan, Zenger, Kyall R., and Hoskin, Conrad J. (2023) Conservation genomics reveals fine-scale population structuring and recent declines in the Critically Endangered Australian Kuranda Treefrog. Conservation Genetics, 24. pp. 249-264.

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The Kuranda Treefrog occurs in tropical north-east Australia and is listed as Critically Endangered due to its small distribution and population size, with observed declines due to drought and human-associated impacts to habitat. Field surveys identified marked population declines in the mid-2000s, culminating in very low abundance at most sites in 2005 and 2006, followed by limited recovery. Here, samples from before (2001–2004) and after (2007–2009) this decline were analysed using 7132 neutral genome-wide SNPs to assess genetic connectivity among breeding sites, genetic erosion, and effective population size. We found a high level of genetic connectivity among breeding sites, but also structuring between the population at the eastern end of the distribution (Jumrum Creek) versus all other sites. Despite finding no detectable sign of genetic erosion between the two times periods, we observed a marked decrease in effective population size (Ne), from 1720 individuals pre-decline to 818 post-decline. This mirrors the decline detected in the field census data, but the magnitude of the decline suggested by the genetic data is greater. We conclude that the current effective population size for the Kuranda Treefrog remains around 800 adults, split equally between Jumrum Creek and all other sites combined. The Jumrum Creek habitat requires formal protection. Connectivity among all other sites must be maintained and improved through continued replanting of rainforest, and it is imperative that impacts to stream flow and water quality are carefully managed to maintain or increase population sizes and prevent genetic erosion.

Item ID: 78347
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1572-9737
Keywords: Effective population size (ne), Genetic connectivity, Kuranda Treefrog, Litoria myola, Threatened species management
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DP0773537, ARC DP0986013, ARC DE130100218
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2023 01:46
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310509 Genomics @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 70%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280111 Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences @ 30%
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