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Global Amphibian Declines, Loss of Genetic Diversity and Fitness: A Review

School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
Brannoxtown, Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2010, 2(1), 47-71;
Received: 4 November 2009 / Accepted: 26 December 2009 / Published: 5 January 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Amphibian Conservation)
PDF [280 KB, uploaded 5 January 2010]


It is well established that a decrease in genetic variation can lead to reduced fitness and lack of adaptability to a changing environment. Amphibians are declining on a global scale, and we present a four-point argument as to why this taxonomic group seems especially prone to such genetic processes. We elaborate on the extent of recent fragmentation of amphibian gene pools and we propose the term dissociated populations to describe the residual population structure. To put their well-documented loss of genetic diversity into context, we provide an overview of 34 studies (covering 17 amphibian species) that address a link between genetic variation and >20 different fitness traits in amphibians. Although not all results are unequivocal, clear genetic-fitness-correlations (GFCs) are documented in the majority of the published investigations. In light of the threats faced by amphibians, it is of particular concern that the negative effects of various pollutants, pathogens and increased UV-B radiation are magnified in individuals with little genetic variability. Indeed, ongoing loss of genetic variation might be an important underlying factor in global amphibian declines. View Full-Text
Keywords: amphibian conservation; fitness; genetic diversity; genetic drift; inbreeding amphibian conservation; fitness; genetic diversity; genetic drift; inbreeding

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Allentoft, M.E.; O’Brien, J. Global Amphibian Declines, Loss of Genetic Diversity and Fitness: A Review. Diversity 2010, 2, 47-71.

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