Term of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Aaron Schrey

Committee Member 1

Michele Guidone

Committee Member 2

Lance McBrayer

Abstract

The Lake Wales Ridge is important scrub habitat that has been increasingly altered since the post-Columbian settlement in Florida. This loss of habitat has caused extreme anthropogenic fragmentation within the Lake Wales Ridge resulting in isolation among extant scrub patches. To expand the geographic scope of previous studies and answer questions concerning population connectivity, we characterized genetic diversity and differentiation using cytochrome-b and microsatellite genetic markers for two endemic skink species: the Florida Sand Skink (Plestiodon reynoldsi) and Blue-tailed Mole Skink (Plestiodon egregius lividus). Both species display historical isolation between central and southern Lake Wales Ridge regions with recent indication of isolation among geographically proximate sample locations. Results also indicate both focal species have low vagility based on genetic differentiation estimates. The Florida Sand Skink and Blue-tailed Mole Skink also shared similar patterns of genetic diversity within sample locations suggesting isolation by anthropogenic fragmentation is the largest threat facing both species.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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