Currently, conservation efforts are devoted to determining the extent and the causes of the decline of many amphibian species worldwide. Human impacts frequently degrade amphibian habitat and have been implicated in many declines. Because genetic variance is critical in determining the persistence of a species in a changing environment, we examined the amount of genetic variability present in a single population for tolerance to an environmental stressor. We examined the amount of genetic variability among full- and half-sib families in a single population of southern leopard frogs (Rana sphenocephala) with respect to their tolerance to lethal concentrations of the agricultural chemical, carbaryl. Analysis of time-to-death data indicated significant differences among full-sib families and suggests a large amount of variability present in the responses to this environmental stressor. Significant differences in responses among half-sib families indicated that there is additive genetic variance. These data suggest that this population may have the ability to adapt to environmental stressors. It is possible that declines of amphibian populations in the western United States may be attributed to low genetic variability resulting from limited migration among populations and small population sizes.
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Vol. 2001 • No. 1