Population genetic analysis of the recently rediscovered Hula painted frog (Latonia nigriventer) reveals high genetic diversity and low inbreeding
After its recent rediscovery, the Hula painted frog (Latonia nigriventer) has remained one of the world’s rarest and least understood amphibian species. Together with its apparently low dispersal capability and highly disturbed niche, the low abundance of this living fossil calls for urgent conservation measures. We used 18 newly developed microsatellite loci and four different models to calculate the effective population size (Ne) of a total of 125 Hula painted frog individuals sampled at a single location. We compare the Ne estimates to the estimates of potentially reproducing adults in this population (Nad) determined through a capture-recapture study on 118 adult Hula painted frogs captured at the same site. Surprisingly, our data suggests that, despite Nad estimates of only ~234–244 and Ne estimates of ~16.6–35.8, the species appears to maintain a very high genetic diversity (HO = 0.771) and low inbreeding coefficient (FIS = −0.018). This puzzling outcome could perhaps be explained by the hypotheses of either genetic rescue from one or more unknown Hula painted frog populations nearby or by recent admixture of genetically divergent subpopulations. Independent of which scenario is correct, the original locations of these populations still remain to be determined.