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Conservation status, genetics, and population vulnerability of Arkansas darter (Etheostoma cragini) in Colorado


Start Date
End Date
Start Date
2010-07-09 05:00:00
End Date
2011-10-31 05:00:00


Harry J. Crockett(Principal Investigator), Sarah W. Fitzpatrick(Cooperator/Partner), W. Chris Funk(Cooperator/Partner), Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative(administrator), 2010-07-09(Start), 2011-10-31(End), Conservation status, genetics, and population vulnerability of Arkansas darter (Etheostoma cragini) in Colorado


Genetic, demographic, and environmental processes affect natural populations synergistically, and understanding their interplay is crucial for the conservation of biodiversity. Stream fishes in metapopulations are particularly sensitive to habitat fragmentation because persistence depends on dispersal and colonization of new habitat but dispersal is constrained to stream networks. Great Plains streams are increasingly fragmented by water diversion and climate change, threatening connectivity of fish populations in this ecosystem. We used seven microsatellite loci to describe population and landscape genetic patterns across 614 individuals from 12 remaining populations of Arkansas darter ( Etheostoma cragini) in Colorado, a candidate [...]

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Previous conservation efforts included an extensive history of translocations and stocking by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), assessment of taxonomic status based on mitochondrial DNA, mark-recapture methods to estimate demographic parameters, and occupancy analysis to determine the scale and specific habitat features influencing Arkansas darter site occupancy. Our study builds on this effort to understand and improve Arkansas darter population dynamics by using a conservation genetics approach, a contribution that sheds new light on understanding the effects of habitat fragmentation on connectivity as well as the vulnerability of these populations in the face of climate change. Specifically, we set out to address three main questions: (1) What are the natural patterns of genetic diversity, effective population size, and gene flow in the Colorado portion of the species’ range?; (2) How does the landscape affect genetic diversity and gene flow? Do the same factors that influence site-occupancy also affect connectivity and population genetic patterns?; and (3) Have historical stocking efforts augmenting natural populations succeeded in contributing to the breeding population? This case study in Colorado highlights an approach that is broadly applicable to stream taxa worldwide that are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of fragmentation and climate change.

Project Extension

productDescriptionPublication and maps describing stream fragmentation and gene flow

Budget Extension

recipientColorado Parks and Wildlife
sourceU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
recipientColorado Parks and Wildlife
sourceColorado Parks and Wildlife

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File Identifier file identifier 50db7f68e4b061270600bf2f

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