Monday, December 18, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Evolutionarily Significant Units of the Critically Endangered Leaf Frog Pithecopus ayeaye (Anura, Phyllomedusidae) are Not Effectively Preserved by the Brazilian Protected Areas Network

Pithecopus ayeaye B. Lutz, 1966

de Magalhães, Lemes, Camargo, et al. 2017. 
Photograph by R. A. Brandão. || DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3261   


Protected areas (PAs) are essential for biodiversity conservation, but their coverage is considered inefficient for the preservation of all species. Many species are subdivided into evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) and the effectiveness of PAs in protecting them needs to be investigated. We evaluated the usefulness of the Brazilian PAs network in protecting ESUs of the critically endangered Pithecopus ayeaye through ongoing climate change. This species occurs in a threatened mountaintop ecosystem known as campos rupestres. We used multilocus DNA sequences to delimit geographic clusters, which were further validated as ESUs with a coalescent approach. Ecological niche modeling was used to estimate spatial changes in ESUs’ potential distributions, and a gap analysis was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of the Brazilian PAs network to protect P. ayeaye in the face of climate changes. We tested the niche overlap between ESUs to gain insights for potential management alternatives for the species. Pithecopus ayeaye contains at least three ESUs isolated in distinct mountain regions, and one of them is not protected by any PA. There are no climatic niche differences between the units, and only 4% of the suitable potential area of the species is protected in present and future projections. The current PAs are not effective in preserving the intraspecific diversity of P. ayeaye in its present and future range distributions. The genetic structure of P. ayeaye could represent a typical pattern in campos rupestres endemics, which should be considered for evaluating its conservation status.

KEYWORD: Sapproximate Bayesian computation, campos rupestres, conservation genetics, ecological niche modeling, niche overlap, statistical phylogeography 

FIGURE 1: An individual of Pithecopus ayeaye B. Lutz, 1966 from type locality, Morro do Ferro, Poços de Caldas—MG.

Photograph by Reuber Albuquerque Brandão. 

Rafael Félix de Magalhães, Priscila Lemes, Arley Camargo, Ubirajara Oliveira, Reuber Albuquerque Brandão, Hans Thomassen, Paulo Christiano de Anchietta Garcia, Felipe Sá Fortes Leite and Fabrício Rodrigues Santos. 2017. Evolutionarily Significant Units of the Critically Endangered Leaf Frog Pithecopus ayeaye (Anura, Phyllomedusidae) are Not Effectively Preserved by the Brazilian Protected Areas Network.  Ecology and Evolution. 7(21); 8812–8828.  DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3261  

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