Genetic restoration in the eastern collared lizard under prescribed woodland burning

Jennifer L. Neuwald, Alan R. Templeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eastern collared lizards of the Ozarks live in glades - open, rocky habitats embedded in a woodland matrix. Past fire suppression had made the woodlands a barrier to dispersal, leading to habitat destruction, fragmentation and local extinction. Reintroduced populations of lizards were subjected to 10 years of habitat fragmentation under continued fire suppression followed by twelve years of landscape restoration with prescribed burns. Prior to prescribed burning, genetic diversity decreased within glades and differentiation increased among glades. With woodland burning, genetic diversity within glades first decreased during an expanding colonization phase, but then increased as a dynamically stable metapopulation was established. Population differentiation among glades also stabilized in the metapopulation under weak isolation-by-distance. This study is one of the first to examine the genetic changes in a species of conservation concern throughout all the stages of decline and recovery and shows the importance of landscape-level restoration for maintaining the genetic integrity of populations. This study also demonstrates how mark-recapture and genetic data together can yield detailed insight into metapopulation dynamics that would be impossible from just one type of data alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3666-3679
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • conservation genetics
  • fire management
  • gene flow
  • habitat fragmentation
  • reptiles
  • restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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