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Heredity (Edinb). 2007 Nov;99(5):506-15. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

Applying new inter-individual approaches to assess fine-scale population genetic diversity in a neotropical frog, Eleutherodactylus ockendeni.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.


We assess patterns of genetic diversity of a neotropical leaflitter frog, Eleutherodactylus ockendeni, in the upper Amazon of Ecuador without a priori delineation of biological populations and with sufficiently intensive sampling to assess inter-individual patterns. We mapped the location of each collected frog across a 5.4 x 1 km landscape at the Jatun Sacha Biological Station, genotyped 185 individuals using five species-specific DNA microsatellite loci, and sequenced a fragment of mitochondrial cytochrome b for a subset of 51 individuals. The microsatellites were characterized by high allelic diversity and homozygote excess across all loci, suggesting that when pooled the sample is not a panmictic population. We conclude that the lack of panmixia is not attributable to the influence of null alleles or biased sampling of consanguineous family groups. Multiple methods of population cluster analysis, using both Bayesian and maximum likelihood approaches, failed to identify discrete genetic clusters across the sampled area. Using multivariate spatial autocorrelation, kinship coefficients and relatedness coefficients, we identify a continuous isolation by distance population structure, with a first patch size of ca. 260 m and apparently large population sizes. Analysis of mtDNA corroborates the observation of high genetic diversity at fine scales: there are multiple haplotypes, they are non-randomly distributed and a binary haplotype correlogram shows significant spatial genetic autocorrelation. We demonstrate the utility of inter-individual genetic methods and caution against making a priori assumptions about population genetic structure based simply on arbitrary or convenient patterns of sampling.

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