Preliminary Genetic Analysis Supports Cave Populations as Targets for Conservation in the Endemic Endangered Puerto Rican Boa (Boidae: Epicrates inornatus)

A.R. Puente-Rolón, R.G. Reynolds, L.J. Revell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    The endemic Puerto Rican boa (Epicrates inornatus) has spent 42 years on the Endangered Species List with little evidence for recovery. One significant impediment to effective conservation planning has been a lack of knowledge of the distribution of genetic variability in the species. It has previously been suggested that boas might best be protected around caves that harbor large populations of bats. Prior study has found Puerto Rican boas at relatively high densities in and around bat caves, which they use both to feed and seek shelter. However, it is unknown whether these behaviorally distinctive populations represent a distinct evolutionary lineage, or (conversely) whether caves harbor representative genetic diversity for the species across the island. We provide the first genetic study of the Puerto Rican boa, and we examine and compare genetic diversity and divergence among two cave populations and two surface populations of boas. We find three haplogroups and an apparent lack of phylogeographic structure across the island. In addition, we find that the two cave populations appear no less diverse than the two surface populations, and harbor multiple mtDNA lineages. We discuss the conservation implications of these findings, including a call for the immediate protection of the remaining cave-associated populations of boas. © 2013 Puente-Rolón et al.
    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere63899
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume8
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 2013

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