German Journal of Herpetology

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Auffarth, J. A. Krug, H. Pröhl & R. Jehle

A genetically-informed Population Viability Analysis reveals conservation priorities for an isolated population of Hyla arborea. pp. 171-182.

Abstract. Population Viability Analysis (PVA) is a commonly used tool to predict the fate of endangered populations. However, although amphibians are the most endangered group of vertebrates, PVAs have so far been underrepresented in their conservation management. In the last decades, the European tree frog (Hyla arborea) has experienced drastic declines mainly caused by habitat fragmentation and loss of suitable breeding sites. In the present study, we used the PVA software VORTEX to predict the viability of a H. arborea population of about 70 adults inhabiting an isolated pond in the region of Hannover (Germany), by combining life history data with genotypic information derived from eight polymorphic microsatellite markers. Our PVA revealed a high probability of extinction within the next 50 years, with juvenile survival being a crucial demographic parameter for population persistence. Simulated immigration through metapopulation processes or population supplementation prevented genetic erosion, and markedly increased the probability of population survival. Future management interventions should consider pond management to enhance survival at early stages, and the creation of migration corridors to facilitate connectivity with adjacent demes and/or the translocation of individuals. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies that applies a genetically-informed PVA to the management of endangered anuran amphibians.
Key words. Population viability analysis, Hyla, amphibian population decline, genetic diversity, habitat fragmentation.