Species conservation efforts are increasingly using genetic diversity and phylogeny to inform policy decisions. Evolutionary distinctiveness (ED), which estimates genetic diversity based on phylogenetic branch lengths and species richness, is commonly used to prioritize species conservation. Large-scale studies of ED in amphibians have reported correlations among threatened status, area of distribution and habitat lost. However, conservation priorities based on ED could be more impactful for clades with high species richness, as well as considering the risk factors associated with species vulnerability in a local setting. We implemented comparative phylogenetic methods and multivariate regression to test the factors influencing species threatened status in a large clade of frogs within the subfamily Hylinae. We present the most comprehensive molecular phylogeny for the group, including 139 species, 265 individuals, and 12 additional species that were not previously studied. Additional data for each species includes (1) conservation status on the IUCN red list; (2) evolutionary distinctiveness; (3) species distribution in square kilometers; and (4) elevation profiles. Using a Phylogenetic General Linear Model to test the relationships among these variables, we found a significant correlation between threatened status and elevation. The threatened status of species was not correlated with ED or distribution area, which is inconsistent with large-scale studies spanning multiple families. By taking evolutionary history into account and testing for relationships between IUCN threatened status and factors at a regional scale, we provide new information for redirecting tree frog conservation efforts in the Neotropics.
Bibliographical noteThe authors would like to thank the Museo de Zoologia de la Facultad de Ciencias, “Alfonso L. Herrera” MZFC, Coleccion de Anfibios y Reptiles del Instituto de Ecologia CARIES, González-Bernal E., Jimenez-Arcos V., and Palacios-Aguilar R. for tissue donations. Thank you to Dr. Fausto Mendez de la Cruz for his support with specimen collection under permit 01205 SEMARNAT. Itzue W. Caviedes-Solis was funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Mexico, CONACyT Fellowship Number 313501 “Becas CONACyT al Extranjero’ and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Cultures. Sequencing was funded by the Wyckoff Fellowship granted by the Biology Department at the University of Washington. For assistance with fieldwork, we thank Ross Furbush, Laura Frost, Luis Felipe Vazquez-Vega, Israel Solano-Zavaleta, Gustavo Campillo, and Yire A. Gomez-Jimenez. We thank Andrew Magee for assistance with phylogenetic analyses. We are especially grateful to the communities in Mexico that granted us permission to search for frogs in their forests and for hosting us in the field.
Itzue W. Caviedes-Solis was funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Mexico, CONACyT Fellowship Number 313501 “Becas CONACyT al Extranjero’, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Cultures. Sequencing was funded by the Wyckoff Fellowship granted by the Biology Department at the University of Washington.
- Comparative methods