Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019ND204B

Assessment of agricultural impact on biotic components of North Dakota wetland resources using landscape genomics of northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-31 End Date: 2020-05-30
Total Federal Funds: $7,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $15,000

Principal Investigators: Craig Stockwell

Abstract: The northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), though common in North Dakota, has become imperiled throughout the western portion of its range due to climatic stressors and loss of habitat from land-use change. Agricultural land use has greatly expanded in the northern Great Plains and is continuing to replace natural prairie on the landscape. This conversion of prairie to cropland greatly influences the quality of water resources, e.g., wetlands, embedded in the converted landscape through the introduction of new stressors into remaining wetland habitats in the form of nutrient loading from fertilizers and toxicity from pesticides. In experimental settings, ecologically relevant concentrations of agricultural pollutants are known to have negative effects on wetland-dependent taxa, including amphibians. However little work has been done to quantify these effects in real-world systems. This project will use modern single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based molecular-genetics techniques to reveal fine-scale genetic variation within northern leopard frog populations in North Dakota. These data will be evaluated in a spatially explicit context to evaluate how landscape change and anthropogenic disturbance impacts northern leopard frog populations. For instance, population crashes often leave genetic signatures that can subsequently be evaluated in a spatial context. When combined with landscape data, the genetic information can also be used to develop a model of connectivity to identify focal wetlands for appropriate management and conservation. Additionally, scanning for associations between genomic data, water quality and agricultural intensity can reveal insights into selective pressures faced by amphibians in an agriculture-dominated landscape. This information is necessary to assess how well the water resources of North Dakota can continue to support biotic resources under pressure from agricultural expansion.