16.4 Wednesday, Jan. 4 Comparison of Genetic Structure of the Florida Sand Skink, Plestiodon reynoldsi, in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Habitat on Lake Wales Ridge in Central Florida FOX, Alicia M*; SCHREY , Aaron W; MCCOY, Earl D; MUSHINSKY, Henry R; University of South Florida; University of South Florida; University of South Florida; University of South Florida firstname.lastname@example.org
The Florida Sand Skink, Plestiodon reynoldsi, is a threatened fossorial lizard that occurs in the scrub found throughout the central ridges in Florida. Florida scrub is a highly heterogeneous habitat, including areas of continuous scrub and areas with a mosaic of scrub and wetlands. Genetic differentiation is known to exist among distinct geographic samples across its distribution; however, fine-scale analyses of genetic structure are needed to describe spatial genetic differentiation in this species. The goal of this study was to compare genetic structure of Florida Sand Skink populations in continuous and heterogeneous scrub. Multiple microsatellite loci were screened in individuals sampled from two sites: 1) a large homogeneous scrub location near Davenport, Florida, and 2) a large heterogeneous scrub at the Archbold Biological Station near Lake Placid, Florida, which has habitat heterogeneity and numerous small wetlands throughout the scrub. Samples at Davenport were collected from four sites (less than 2 km apart), each with multiple transects of pitfall arrays, while samples at Archbold were obtained from pitfall traps in 30 enclosures located in scrub patches. We determined the number of genetic clusters that occurred at each location in a similar geographic area. STRUCTURE revealed only one cluster at Davenport, while multiple levels of clustering were present at Archbold. Our study reveals that Florida Sand Skinks exhibit more genetic differentiation in a heterogeneous scrub than in a homogeneous scrub. These differences in genetic structure may have implications for the conservation and management plan for this threatened species.