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Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 1607–1626 | Cite as

Neglected native or undesirable alien? Resolution of a conservation dilemma concerning the pool frog Rana lessonae

  • Trevor J. C. Beebee
  • John Buckley
  • Ivor Evans
  • Jim P. FosterEmail author
  • Antony H. Gent
  • Chris P. Gleed-Owen
  • Geoffrey Kelly
  • Graham Rowe
  • Charles Snell
  • Julia T. Wycherley
  • Inga Zeisset
Article

Abstract

Introduced species often pose serious threats to biodiversity, but occasionally confusion arises as to whether a species really is introduced or is in fact an overlooked native. A recent UK conservation dilemma has centred on the status of the pool frog Rana lessonae. This species has been the subject of documented introductions from central and southern Europe since the early 1800s, the accepted position being that all UK R. lessonae populations are descended from these introductions. However, a closer examination of early UK literature sources, and recent discoveries of isolated, native R. lessonae populations in Sweden and Norway, led some herpetologists to question whether the species was in fact present as a native at some locations prior to the introductions. Research was initiated along four major lines of enquiry: genetic, bioacoustic, archaeozoological and archival. A high degree of convergence among the genetic and bioacoustic investigations demonstrated that the potentially native UK pool frogs were closely related to Scandinavian frogs, thus ruling out introductions from further south as a potential origin. Subfossil evidence of pool frogs was found from ca. 1000 years before present, demonstrating that the species occurred in the UK prior to known introductions. Archival sources produced no historical support for introductions from northern Europe. The postglacial history inferred for these northern populations is consistent with the known climatic and geographical conditions. Taken together, the evidence for the native status of the pool frog is compelling, and furthermore the UK population appears to be part of a distinct northern clade.

Keywords

Archaeozoology Bioacoustic analysis Introduced species Literature Microsatellites Native species Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA Ranidae 

Abbreviation

bp

before present

LGM

Late Glacial Maximum

mtDNA

mitochondrial DNA

RAPD

Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA.

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trevor J. C. Beebee
    • 1
  • John Buckley
    • 2
  • Ivor Evans
    • 3
  • Jim P. Foster
    • 4
    Email author
  • Antony H. Gent
    • 2
  • Chris P. Gleed-Owen
    • 2
  • Geoffrey Kelly
    • 5
  • Graham Rowe
    • 1
  • Charles Snell
    • 3
  • Julia T. Wycherley
    • 1
  • Inga Zeisset
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.The Herpetological Conservation TrustBournemouthBH1 4AP
  3. 3.School of Chemical and Life SciencesUniversity of Greenwich KentUK
  4. 4.English NaturePeterboroughUK
  5. 5.Geoffrey Kelly NorwichUK
  6. 6.Department of Population Ecology Zoological InstituteUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen 0Denmark

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