Phylogenetic Analysis of the Ramsey Canyon Leopard Frog (Rana subaquavocalis)
Recent research has shown that there are several large divisions in the North American frog populations, splitting the population into an eastern lineage and a western lineage. A new species of frog (Rana subaquavocalis) has been discovered in the Huachuca Mountains in Arizona. Rana subaquavocalis is morphologically similar to the group Rana pipiens which is an eastern lineage frog, yet it displays a complex underwater vocalization pattern which is found only in West coast frogs. This research will use tissue homogenates of several species of frogs for an allozymic electrophoresis in order obtain genetic markers which will show whether the species Rana subaquayocalis has developed from the pipiens group and simultaneously developed the underwater vocalization trait, or if Rana subaquavocalis developed from a western lineage of frogs and has independently developed the pipiens morphology. Genetic markers during this experiment have shown that Rana subaquavocalis is genetically similar to the frogs from the eastern lineage, especially Rana chiricahuensitta member of the pipiens group. This demonstrates that Rana subaquavocalis has probably evolved from the pipiens group, members of the eastern lineage of frogs, and has evolved the technique of underwater vocalization independently of the western lineage of frogs. This demonstrates an example of convergent evolution towards a trait which allows for better survival of the species.