Genetic structure and demographic history of Indirana semipalmata, an endemic frog species of the Western Ghats, India

Mitochondrial DNA Part A  08 October 2020 | doi.org/10.1080/24701394.2020.1830077  

Kiran S. Kumar, Sivakumar K. Chandrika & Sanil George

ABSTRACT

The evolutionary potential of a species mainly depends on the level of genetic variation in their populations. Maintenance of gene variation enables populations to adapt more quickly to environmental changes. The geographical gaps also influence the distribution and evolutionary history of many mountain frogs in the world. Hence, a sound knowledge in population genetic structure of a species will help understand its population dynamics and develop conservation strategies. In the context of facing threats to the amphibian fauna of Western Ghats due to habitat loss, we used both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers to investigate the genetic structure of an endemic frog species of the Western Ghats (Indirana semipalmata) with restricted distribution. The present study showed the importance of mountain gaps in shaping the species' structuring in the Western Ghats. Though a high genetic diversity was observed for the species when considering a single unit in the southern Western Ghats, the restricted gene flow on/between either side of the Shencottah gap with genetic clustering of the sampled populations may warrant a unique management plan for the species. The habitat fragmentation of the Western Ghats through anthropogenic activities may result in severe setbacks to the survival of the species in the future.

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