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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 May 7;268(1470):933-8.

Determination of biogeographical range: an application of molecular phylogeography to the European pool frog Rana lessonae.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.


Understanding how species are constrained within their biogeographical ranges is a central problem in evolutionary ecology. Essential prerequisites for addressing this question include accurate determinations of range borders and of the genetic structures of component populations. Human translocation of organisms to sites outside their natural range is one factor that increasingly complicates this issue. In areas not far beyond presumed natural range margins it can be particularly difficult to determine whether a species is native or has been introduced. The pool frog (Rana lessonae) in Britain is a specific example of this dilemma . We used variation at six polymorphic microsatellite loci for investigating the phylogeography of R. lessonae and establishing the affinities of specimens from British populations. The existence and distribution of a distinct northern clade of this species in Norway, Sweden and England infer that it is probably a long-standing native of Britain, which should therefore be included within its natural range. This conclusion was further supported by posterior probability estimates using Bayesian clustering. The phylogeographical analysis revealed unexpected patterns of genetic differentiation across the range of R. lessonae that highlighted the importance of historical colonization events in range structuring.

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