The effect of habitat fragmentation on finescale population structure of wood frogs (Rana sylvatica)
We examined the impact of recent anthropogenic habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of wood frog (Rana sylvatica) breeding sites in Wellington County of Ontario, Canada. In addition to geographic distance (average pairwise distance ~22 km, greatest distance ~50.22 km), four landscape features hypothesized to contribute to genetic differentiation between breeding sites were considered: road density, a major highway (highway 401), canopy cover, and watershed discontinuity. Analysis of data from 396 samples across nine breeding sites using eight microsatellite DNA loci, revealed a small degree of significant genetic structure between breeding sites. The presence of highway 401 and road density were correlated with small but statistically significant structure observed between several groups of sites. One outlier breeding site outside of Wellington County located within the city of Toronto, had significantly lower allelic richness and much larger population differentiation with the Wellington sites. Our data suggest that recent fragmentation has had an effect on wood frog population structure and also demonstrate the importance of dispersal for this species in maintaining levels of genetic diversity.