Meeting Abstract

34.3  Friday, Jan. 4  The Genetics of Colonization: Evidence for a Recent Range Expansion in Hyla cinerea DOLCEMASCOLO, P*; DILEO, K; Montclair State University; NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife

Green tree frogs, Hyla cinerea, are ubiquitous across their geographic range, from Delaware south along the Atlantic Coastal Plain to Florida, westward along the Gulf Coastal Plain to eastern Texas, and north into the Mississippi River Valley to southern Illinois. In June 2011, a large population of H. cinerea was discovered in southwestern New Jersey along the Delaware River. This was the first recorded occurrence of H. cinerea in NJ and represents a possible range expansion past their northern-most limit in Delaware. Subsequent reports of this species have been confirmed along the Delaware Bayshore. Northeastward range expansions by this species have been documented in Illinois and recently metamorphosed H. cinerea have been found 0.5 km from the nearest breeding habitat, demonstrating dispersal capacity. To determine whether the NJ population was established via colonization by Delaware tree frogs, genetic analyses were undertaken. Toe clips were collected from both populations and partial sequences of the mitochondrial ND1 gene were used to generate a statistical parsimony network. Four haplotypes were distinguished, with all NJ haplotypes being identical to the most prevalent Delaware haplotype and the Delaware haplotypes differing by at most one base pair. A sequence from a Louisiana green tree frog obtained from GenBank could not be joined in the network with 95% confidence. These results indicate a recent movement of Delaware frogs into NJ. Museum specimens collected throughout the species’ range are being analyzed in order to place the new NJ population in the context of species-wide diversity. Although movement may have been human-mediated, rising temperatures are possibly favoring the persistence and establishment of these frogs in new areas.