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Survival and malformations, swimming performance and tadpole traits

Evans, Jonathan; Mitchell, Nicola; Rudin-Bitterli, Tabitha

Targeted gene flow (TGF) could bolster the adaptive potential of isolated populations threatened by climate change, but could also lead to outbreeding depression. Here, we explore these possibilities by creating mixed- and within-population crosses in a terrestrial-breeding frog species threatened by a drying climate. We reared embryos on wet and dry soils and quantified fitness-related traits upon hatching. TGF produced mixed outcomes in hybrids which depended on crossing direction (origin of gametes from each sex). North-south crosses led to low embryonic survival if eggs were of a southern origin, and high malformation rates when eggs were from a northern population. Conversely, east-west crosses led to one instance of hybrid vigour, evident by increased fitness and desiccation tolerance of hybrid offspring relative to offspring produced from within-population crosses. These contrasting results highlight the need to experimentally evaluate the outcomes of TGF for focal species across generations prior to implementing management actions.

Funding provided by: ANZ Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment*
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Award Number: HOLSW2016-R1-F036

Funding provided by: Australian Government's National Environmental Science Programme*
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Funding provided by: C.F.H. & E.A. Jenkins Postgraduate Research Scholarship*
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