Meeting Abstract

34.5  Friday, Jan. 4  Are roads a barrier to gene flow in a sand burrowing lizard, the Florida Sand Skink, Plestiodon reynoldsi? FOX, A M*; SCHREY, A W; MCCOY, E D; MUSHINSKY, H R; University of South Florida; Armstrong Atlantic State University; University of South Florida; University of South Florida amfox@mail.usf.edu

The scrub of peninsular Florida is a highly imperiled ecosystem and home to numerous federally listed species. Effective conservation of these species will benefit from understanding how anthropogenic habitat modification alters the genetic characteristics of populations. Roads are a common anthropogenic habitat modification, and understanding their effect on local populations is important for management. Our goal is to determine if Florida State Road 40 (SR40), which bisects the Florida scrub habitat of the Ocala National Forest in northern peninsular Florida, is a barrier to gene flow in the threatened Florida Sand Skink, Plestiodon reynoldsi. The fossorial Sand Skink requires fine, well-drained sand for locomotion; thus, roads may have a direct impact on individual movement. Construction of SR40 began between 80 and 100 years ago, for which approximately 20-25 generations of the Florida Sand Skink have occurred prior to sample collection. We collected individuals (n = 44) from sites north and south of SR40 and screened them for allelic variation at 8 microsatellite DNA loci and mitochondrial DNA variation at the cytochrome-b gene. Because we know the approximate time SR40 altered the habitat of the Florid Sand Skink, we may be able to calibrate the time required for genetic characteristics of the local populations to change. We will also compare our findings to those from recent studies of the Florida Sand Skink in the southern extent of its range.