Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Biology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

As anthropogenic influences take an ever-increasing toll on the environment, understanding how environmental change affects species is paramount. Concern regarding decline in amphibian populations has spurred research examining the effects of habitat change on the dynamics of populations at landscape levels. One important goal is to understand how gene flow among populations is affected by changes in habitat. Biologists need to consider the relationship between gene flow and habitat alterations so that movements among individual breeding ponds can be maintained over time, reducing risk of local extinction events. This study focuses on patterns of gene flow among thirteen populations of California newt (Taricha torosa). We examined genetic structure using five microsatellite markers. We found little evidence of genetic structure on the studied landscape despite extensive variation at our microsatellite loci. Support for models of population structure was weak, and estimates of gene flow among population pairs were high, suggesting that interpond movements on this landscape are extensive. These findings are contrary to our expectations and deviate from other work on these landscapes for other species. Further analyses are required to determine the scale at which we would observe a pattern of genetic structure in this species, but ultimately, these data will be informative for conservation efforts directed at the California Newt.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Jarrett Johnson

Disciplines

Animal Experimentation and Research | Genetics | Population Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology