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Proc Biol Sci. 2004 Jun 22;271(1545):1293-302.

Habitat fragmentation causes bottlenecks and inbreeding in the European tree frog (Hyla arborea).

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National Environmental Research Institute, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity, Grenåvej 12, DK8410 Rønde, Denmark.


A genetic study of the European tree frog, Hyla arborea, in Denmark was undertaken to examine the population structure on mainland Jutland and the island of Lolland after a period of reduction in suitable habitat and population sizes. The two regions have experienced the same rate of habitat loss but fragmentation has been more severe on Lolland. Genetic variation based on 12 polymorphic DNA microsatellites was analysed in 494 tree frogs sampled from two ponds in Jutland and 10 ponds on Lolland. A significant overall deviation from Hardy-Weinberg expectations could be attributed to three ponds, all on Lolland. This was most probably caused by an inbreeding effect reducing fitness, which was supported by the observed significant negative correlation between larva survival and mean F(IS) value and mean individual inbreeding coefficient. A significant reduction in genetic variation (bottleneck) was detected in most of the ponds on Lolland. Population-structure analysis suggested the existence of at least 11 genetically different populations, corresponding to most of the sampled population units. The results indicated that the populations were unique genetic units and could be used to illustrate the migration pattern between newly established ponds arisen either by natural colonization of tree frogs or by artificial introduction. A high degree of pond fidelity in the tree frogs was suggested. A severe fragmentation process reducing population size and fitness within some of the populations probably caused the significant reduction in genetic variation of tree frog populations on Lolland.

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