, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 49-59
Date: 08 Aug 2013

Genetic diversity and structure of an endemic and critically endangered stream river salamander (Caudata: Ambystoma leorae ) in Mexico

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Small or isolated populations are highly susceptible to stochastic events. They are prone and vulnerable to random demographic or environmental fluctuations that could lead to extinction due to the loss of alleles through genetic drift and increased inbreeding. We studied Ambystoma leorae an endemic and critically threatened species. We analyzed the genetic diversity and structure, effective population size, presence of bottlenecks and inbreeding coefficient of 96 individuals based on nine microsatellite loci. We found high levels of genetic diversity expressed as heterozygosity (Ho = 0.804, He = 0.613, He* = 0.626 and HNei = 0.622). The population presents few alleles (4–9 per locus) and genotypes (3–14 per locus) compared with other mole salamanders species. We identified three genetically differentiated subpopulations with a significant level of genetic structure (FST = 0.021, RST = 0.044 y Dest = 0.010, 95 % CI). We also detected a reduction signal in population size and evidence of a genetic bottleneck (M = 0.367). The effective population size is small (Ne = 45.2), but similar to another mole salamanders with restricted distributions or with recently fragmented habitat. The inbreeding coefficient levels detected are low (FIS = −0.619–0.102) as is gene flow. Despite, high levels of genetic diversity A. leorae is critically endangered because it is a small isolated population.