Genetic Isolation of Sceloporus woodi Due to Mature Forests and Major Roadways

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The Florida sand pine scrub habitat is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the southeastern United States due to residential development, agriculture, and logging. Scrub dependent organisms rely on habitat connectivity that is diminishing due to fire suppression and the presence of major roadways. Many scrub organisms like the Florida scrub lizard (Sceloporus woodi) have a high habitat specificity and a limited vagility, making it difficult to disperse to a new site when the habitat becomes unsuitable. The purpose of the current study is to use genetic markers to assess gene flow and population isolation across the Ocala National Forest. We predict that major roads and mature stands of sand pines are acting as barriers separating populations of the Florida scrub lizard. Twenty lizards were captured at various sites throughout the forest and released immediately after a tissue sample was taken. DNA was isolated from these samples to calculate the number of alleles, allele frequency, observed heterozygosity, and expected heterozygosity. Fst values were also calculated to estimate the degree of genetic isolation between sample locations. A proposal has been approved to add wildlife passages under a major highway to promote animal movements between the northern and southern segments of the forest. In addition, the size of clearcuts is scheduled to be increased dramatically throughout the ONF. The results of this study will provide an estimate of the current genetic makeup of the forest and a baseline upon which to evaluate the future changes in management strategies set for the ONF.


Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting (SICB)


Salt Lake City, UT