Genetic diversity is essential for maintaining healthy biological systems, and dispersal-mediated gene flow increases genetic diversity by introducing new alleles to a gene pool. Populations that frequently experience gene flow will show characteristic similarities in allele frequencies. Measuring genetic diversity among many populations across a landscape has proven to be a powerful approach for assessing the ways that habitat discontinuities may affect patterns of gene flow, and in turn, influence allele frequencies and population dynamics. This study examines the landscape-level population genetic structure of the California tiger salamander, Ambystoma californiense, within the Los Vaqueros Watershed of Contra Costa County, California. I investigated correlations between genetic structure and landscape features using larvae collected from 16 ponds and genotyped at 12 microsatellite loci. The data indicate that gene flow is occurring among the sampled populations and that pairwise interpond distance is negatively correlated with gene flow. Furthermore, the analysis suggests a pattern of population stratification developing across the watershed, representing a landscape-mediated mechanism of genetic isolation. The results from this investigation will help address the conservation requirements for A. californiense, while also contributing to the body of knowledge needed for the effective conservation of similar species.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Jarrett Johnson
Animal Sciences | Biology
Vincent, Ryan Neal, "Landscape Genetics of the Endangered California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense) in the Los Vaqueros Watershed" (2014). Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 499.