Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 21–32 | Cite as

Genetic rescue of an inbred captive population of the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) by mixing lineages

  • Kaela B. BeauclercEmail author
  • Bob Johnson
  • Bradley N. White
Research Article


The Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) is currently composed of a single wild population on the south coast of Puerto Rico and two captive populations founded by animals from the northern and southern coasts. The main factors contributing to its decline are habitat loss, inundation of breeding ponds during storms, and impacts of invasive species. Recovery efforts have been extensive, involving captive breeding and reintroductions, habitat restoration, construction of breeding ponds, and public education. To guide future conservation efforts, genetic variation and differentiation were assessed for the two captive colonies and the remaining wild population using the mitochondrial control region and six novel microsatellite loci. Only two moderately divergent mitochondrial haplotypes were found, with one fixed in each of the southern and northern lineages. Moderate genetic variation exists for microsatellite loci in all three groups. The captive southern population has not diverged substantially from the wild population at microsatellite loci (F ST = 0.03), whereas there is little allelic overlap between the northern and southern lineages at five of six loci (F ST > 0.3). Despite this differentiation, they are no more divergent than many populations of other amphibian species. As the northern breeding colony may not remain viable due to its small size and inbred nature, it is recommended that a third breeding colony be established in which northern and southern individuals are combined. This will preserve any northern adaptive traits that may exist, and provide animals for release in the event that the pure northern lineage becomes extirpated.


Peltophryne lemur Microsatellite loci Mitochondrial DNA Conservation genetics Captive breeding Reintroduction 



Many thanks go to M. Canals of the Guánica State Forest and R. Dietz of the Audubon Nature Institute for providing tissue samples. A. Lentini coordinated samples from the Toronto Zoo and answered many questions during the work. Funding was provided by the Toronto Zoo, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) operating grant to BNW, and NSERC PGS-A and PGS-B to KBB. T. Frasier and two anonymous referees provided valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaela B. Beauclerc
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bob Johnson
    • 2
  • Bradley N. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Natural Resources DNA Profiling and Forensic CentreTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  2. 2.Toronto ZooScarboroughCanada

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