Long Generation Time Delays the Genetic Response to Habitat Fragmentation in the Threatened Florida Sand Skink

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A recent study showed that populations of the threatened Florida Sand Skink had limited loss of genetic diversity over the past 60 yr as a consequence of anthropogenic fragmentation. This study assumed that 60 yr represents 30–37 generations for the Florida Sand Skink, but a new evaluation of mark–recapture data shows that 60 yr represents only about 15 generations. This result suggests that too little time may have passed to observe the full genetic consequences of contemporary anthropogenic fragmentation in the Florida Sand Skink and reinforces similar results from other species. We suggest that snapshots of existing genetic variability in fragmented populations are limited in their ability to predict the evolutionary fate of a species unless life-history attributes of the organism are taken into account.

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Journal of Herpetology, v. 44, issue 4, p. 641-644