Conservation Genetics

, 10:1309 | Cite as

Geographic and genetic isolation in spring-associated Eurycea salamanders endemic to the Edwards Plateau region of Texas

  • Lauren K. Lucas
  • Zachariah Gompert
  • James R. Ott
  • Chris C. NiceEmail author
Research Article


Populations of neotenic, spring-associated salamanders of the genus Eurycea occupy discontinuous sites throughout the Edwards Plateau of central Texas and many warrant conservation attention. Here we used DNA sequence data from a nuclear (rag1) and a mitochondrial (ND4) gene to determine (1) the extent of genetic isolation among seven Edwards Plateau Eurycea populations and (2) the relationship between genetic distance and both geographic distance and hydrogeological features. Coalescent-based methods detected little gene flow among the sampled Eurycea populations, and we were unable to reject a model of complete isolation for any pair of populations. These findings were consistent with the relatively high genetic distances we detected among the sampled Eurycea populations (pairwise ϕST ranged from 0.249 to 0.924). We detected a positive correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance, which is consistent with a pattern of isolation by distance. However, while controlling for geographic distance, we did not detect a positive relationship between genetic distance and aquifer or river distance. Thus, we found no evidence that aquifers and/or rivers serve as dispersal corridors among isolated Eurycea populations. Based on these results, we have no evidence that re-colonization of spring sites by migrant salamanders following local extirpation would be likely. Our findings indicate that spring-associated Eurycea salamander populations occupying the Edwards Plateau region are genetically isolated, and that each of these populations should be considered a distinct management unit.


Eurycea Migration rate Coalescent Endemism Isolation by distance Edwards Plateau 



We thank landowners D. Baker, R. Pfeuffer, E. Gilespie, and K. Keith. Thanks, also, to J. Fries, R. Gibson, B. Lewin, E. Chappell, R. Gonzalez, K. Epp, D. Robinson, T. Gonzales, C. Thompson, V. Cantu, P. Connor, S. Reilly, M. Alexander, P. Diaz, and K. Bell for assistance in the field. C. Gabor, J. Fries, N. Bendik, P. Chippindale, six anonymous reviewers, and the EEB group at Texas State University-San Marcos provided helpful comments and discussion. The IM results were carried out by using the resources of the Computational Biology Service Unit from Cornell University, which is partially funded by Microsoft Corporation. This work was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Geological Survey (J. Fries), Texas State University-San Marcos (L. Lucas), and the San Antonio Conservation Society (L. Lucas). This work was approved by IACUC on September 22, 2004 (protocol number: 04-046 E25 EBSA).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren K. Lucas
    • 1
  • Zachariah Gompert
    • 2
  • James R. Ott
    • 1
  • Chris C. Nice
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Population and Conservation Biology ProgramTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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