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Effects of the Interaction between Genetic Diversity and UV-B Radiation on Wood Frog Fitness

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Genetic diversity may buffer amphibian populations against environmental vicissitudes. We hypothesized that wood frogs ( Rana sylvatica) from populations with lower genetic diversity are more susceptible to ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation than those from populations with higher diversity. We used RAPD markers to obtain genetic diversity estimates for 12 wood frog populations. We reared larval wood frogs from these populations and exposed experimental groups of eggs and larvae to one of three treatments: unfiltered sunlight, sunlight filtered through a UV-B-blocking filter (Mylar), and sunlight filtered through a UV-B-transmitting filter (acetate). In groups exposed to UV-B, larval mortality and deformity rates increased significantly, but egg mortality did not. We found a significant negative relationship between genetic diversity and egg mortality, larval mortality, and deformity rates. Furthermore, the interaction between UV-B treatment and genetic diversity significantly affected larval mortality. Populations with low genetic diversity experienced higher larval mortality rates when exposed to UV-B than did populations with high genetic diversity. This is the first time an interaction between genetic diversity and an environmental stressor has been documented in amphibians. Differences in genetic diversity among populations, coupled with environmental stressors, may help explain patterns of amphibian decline.
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Keywords: Rana sylvatica; heterocigosidad; heterozygosity; larval mortality; mortalidad de larvas; radiaciĆ³n ultravioleta-B; sinergia; synergism; ultraviolet-B radiation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, 300 Aronoff Laboratory, 318 W. 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, U.S.A.

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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