Conservation Genetics

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 349–363 | Cite as

Conservation genetics of an endemic and threatened amphibian (Capensibufo rosei): a leap towards establishing a genetic monitoring framework

  • Jessica M. da Silva
  • Krystal A. Tolley
Research Article


Given the ever-increasing anthropogenic changes to natural ecosystems, it is imperative that temporal changes in genetic diversity be monitored to help safeguard the future viability of species. Capensibufo rosei is a small, range-restricted bufonid from South Africa, believed to have experienced an enigmatic decline likely due to the suppression of natural fires and the loss of grazing animals from some areas. Without these disturbances, their habitat becomes overgrown, which might affect the characteristics of their breeding pools. Since the 1980s, four breeding sites have been lost, presumably due to loss of breeding habitat through encroachment of vegetation. Currently, there are only two known populations [Cape of Good Hope (CGH) and Silvermine nature reserves] both within Table Mountain National Park. Consequently, this species may be vulnerable to stochastic events and genetic erosion through the loss of metapopulation connectivity. To assess the genetic status of this species, genetic diversity within both populations was quantified for two time periods using 11 microsatellite markers. Despite evidence of severe population bottlenecks, both populations possess levels of diversity similar to other anurans, and Silvermine has greater diversity than CGH. A close examination of the data revealed both populations to be genetically dynamic through time, with the loss and gain of rare alleles. Both populations also experienced a slight increase in overall diversity between sampling periods. While the latter was not statistically significant, the monitoring period was perhaps too short to understand changes in diversity over time. These results will form the baseline for future monitoring to better understand this threatened and declining species and to track genetic erosion or recovery.


Africa Bufonidae Genetic monitoring Rose’s mountain toadlet 



This work was funded the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa (NRF Incentive Funds IPRR: IFR2011040500035) and by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (National Monitoring Framework). We are grateful to South African National Parks (Table Mountain National Park), J. Measey and F. Becker for support during the collection of samples, J. Wang for his assistance with the program MLNE, as well as A. R. Hoezel for his input and feedback with our DIYABC analysis. Lastly, we thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments, who helped improve the manuscript. This work was carried out under South African National Biodiversity Institute Ethics Clearance (No. 003/2011), Research Agreement with South African National Parks, and Western Cape provincial permits (CapeNature: 0056-AA008-00021).

Supplementary material

10592_2017_1008_MOESM1_ESM.docx (766 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 766 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.South African National Biodiversity InstituteKirstenbosch Research CentreCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Botany and ZoologyUniversity of StellenboschMatielandSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, Centre for Ecological Genomics and Wildlife ConservationUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa

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