Conservation Genetics

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 557–566 | Cite as

Evidence for evolutionary distinctiveness of a newly discovered population of sooglossid frogs on Praslin Island, Seychelles

  • Michele L. Taylor
  • Nancy Bunbury
  • Lindsay Chong-Seng
  • Naomi Doak
  • Samit Kundu
  • Richard A. Griffiths
  • Jim J. Groombridge
Research Article


Amidst a worldwide decline in amphibian populations, those species endemic to islands remain an important focus for conservation efforts. The Sooglossidae are a family of frog species endemic to the Seychelles islands that are believed to have evolved in isolation for approximately 75 million years. Formerly thought to inhabit just two Seychelles islands (Mahé and Silhouette), a third population was discovered on Praslin in 2009. Phylogenetic analysis based on 438 bp of mitochondrial 16S rRNA suggests that the Praslin population is most closely related to Sooglossus sechellensis from Silhouette, and identifies these as two separate clades which together sit distinct from the population on Mahé. An average of 4.06% uncorrected pairwise sequence divergence between the Praslin and Silhouette populations suggests substantial evolutionary divergence rather than recent introduction. Discriminant function analysis also revealed differences in morphology in frogs from Praslin and Mahé. DNA sequences of two Praslin specimens group more closely with the Mahé population, indicating some shared haplotypes that suggest recent secondary contact. Tests for a genetic signature of recent population expansion on either island were not significant. Our results suggest substantial evolutionary divergence between the three populations of S. sechellensis, most likely following isolation due to changes in sea level in the Indian Ocean. Whilst further genetic sampling and ecological studies are needed, our initial phylogenetic analyses suggest that the sooglossid population on Praslin should be managed as an evolutionarily significant unit to retain the uniqueness of its genetic diversity and its evolutionary trajectory within this ancient family of amphibians.


Sooglossidae 16S rRNA Endemic Frog Molecular phylogeny Seychelles 



We thank SIF staff and associated colleagues on Praslin and Mahé for their support, help and advice, including F. Fleischer-Dogley, W. Accouche, M. Pierre, D. Esther, N. Victor, U. Samedi and C. Kaiser-Bunbury. Samples were collected in the Seychelles with permission from the Seychelles Bureau of Standards and we thank R. Fanchette of the Department of Environment for issuing the Material Transfer Agreement. M.L.T. was funded by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent.

Supplementary material

10592_2011_307_MOESM1_ESM.doc (91 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 91 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele L. Taylor
    • 1
  • Nancy Bunbury
    • 2
  • Lindsay Chong-Seng
    • 2
  • Naomi Doak
    • 2
  • Samit Kundu
    • 1
  • Richard A. Griffiths
    • 1
  • Jim J. Groombridge
    • 1
  1. 1.Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of Anthropology and ConservationUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Seychelles Islands FoundationVictoriaSeychelles

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