Genetic diversity and ecological relationships of marsh frog populations in Israel

E. Nevo, S. Y. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allozymic variation in proteins encoded by 28 loci was analyzed electrophoretically in 340 mostly adult specimens representing 11 populations, 8 central and 3 isolated, of aquatic marsh frogs, Rana ridibunda in Israel, along a north-south transect of generally increasing aridity. In addition, geographic variation in 3 morphological variables of 144 frogs and in vertebral stripe color polymorphism of 262 frogs were also studied. The results indicate that. (a) Of the 28 loci examined, 12 (= 43%) are largely monomorphic in all populations; out of the remaining loci, 6 were locally and weakly polymorphic and 10 regionally and strongly polymorphic. (b) No fixation of alternative alleles was found in any of the 28 loci and 11 populations studied. The commonest allele predominated across all populations, central as well as isolates, (c) Clinal patterns associated with increasing aridity southwards and eastwards occurred in polymorphism, P; heterozygosity, H; and in allele frequencies of Esterase-1, Xanthine dehydrogenase, Aldehyde oxidase and Albumin. (d) In the 3 estimates of genie variation, mean number of alleles per locus, A, mean proportion of polymorphic loci per population, P, and heterozygous loci per individual, H, marsh frogs displayed average estimates of genetic variation. The 3 estimates were: A =1.14 (range, 1.18-1.57); P = 0.33 (range, 0.14-0.54): H = 0.069 (range, 0.032-0.094). (e) Central populations harbored distinctly more genic variation than isolated populations. (f) Genic similarity between populations was high. (g) Significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were found in 8 out of 11 populations involving 8 loci, (h) P, H, and allozymic variation in several gene loci were significantly correlated and predictable by environmental variables, primarily those related to water and temperature. (i) A significant amount of morphological variation was found between localities for body length, foot length, and weight in both sexes. Body weight in females was negatively correlated with temperature; and all three morphological variables in females were predicted significantly by a combination of temperature and humidity. (j) The three vertebral stripe color phenotypes, gray, green and red occurred in the following frequencies: 0.59, 0.24, 0.17, respectively. The red morph increased clinally southwards and was significantly correlated with most temperature and water variables. The geographic variation in both the green and red morphs was predicted significantly by climatic variables, both colors blending with local substrates. The spatial patterns and environmental correlates of genetic and morphological variation in Rana ridibunda in Israel suggest that (i) protein polymorphisms are at least partly adaptive and that part is moulded by natural selection rather than by stochastic processes or neutrality; (ii) the environmental variation model seems to be a good predictor of genetic variation in marsh frogs; (iii) body size varies adaptively, presumably determined primarily through thermoregulation; (iv) the spatial pattern of the color polymorphism seems to be adaptively selected by at least two factors: visual predation and climatic determinants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-330
Number of pages14
JournalTheoretical And Applied Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1982


  • Allozymic variation
  • Marsh frog
  • Protein polymorphism
  • Rana ridibunda
  • Spatial pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics


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