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dc.creatorWilliams, Dean A.
dc.creatorRains, Nathan D.
dc.creatorHale, Amanda M.
dc.description.abstractThe Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) inhabits much of the southern Great Plains of North America. Since the 1950s, this species has been extirpated from much of its eastern range and has suffered declines and local extinctions elsewhere, primarily due to habitat loss. Plans are underway to use captive breeding to produce large numbers of Texas horned lizards for reintroduction into areas that were historically occupied by this species and that currently have suitable habitat. We used mitochondrial markers and nuclear microsatellite markers to determine levels of genetic diversity and population structure in 542 Texas horned lizards sampled from across Texas and some neighboring states to help inform these efforts. Texas horned lizards still retain high genetic diversity in many parts of their current range. We found two highly divergent mitochondrial clades (eastern and western) and three major genetic groupings at nuclear microsatellite loci: a west group corresponding to the western mitochondrial clade and north and south groups within the eastern mitochondrial clade. We also found some evidence for human-mediated movement between these genetic clusters that is probably related to the historical importance of this species in the pet trade and as an iconic symbol of the southwestern United States. We do not know, however, if there are fitness costs associated with admixture (especially for the western and eastern clades) or if there are fitness costs to moving these lizards into habitats that are distinctly different from their ancestral areas. If present, either one or both of these fitness costs would decrease the effectiveness of reintroduction efforts. We therefore recommend that reintroduction efforts should maintain current genetic structure by restricting breeding to be between individuals within their respective genetic clusters, and by reintroducing individuals only into those areas that encompass their respective genetic clusters. This cautionary approach is based on the strong divergence between genetic groupings and their correspondence to different ecoregions.
dc.publisherPeerJ Inc.
dc.subjectConservation units
dc.titlePopulation genetic structure of Texas horned lizards: implications for reintroduction and captive breeding
dc.rights.holderDean A. Williams et al.
dc.rights.licenseCC BY 4.0
local.collegeCollege of Science and Engineering
local.personsWillliams, Hale (BIOL)

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