Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Globally, amphibians are the most imperiled vertebrate taxa in part because they rely on both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Specifically, their permeable skin makes them uniquely susceptible to habitat degradation and alteration. Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) are a diploid-tetraploid, morphologically indistinguishable sister pair of cryptic anurans native to Kansas. Since 1987, the distribution of gray treefrogs in Kanas has extended west but the status of each species in the complex in Kansas is not known beyond its documented combined western expansion. Currently, species identification cannot be determined by nonlethal techniques. Consequently, which species or if species remain in sympatry across the expanding range has not been determined. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to determine 1) the updated range distribution for both species that comprise the gray treefrog complex in Kansas, 2) to determine if mitochondrial DNA can be used to distinguish the two species in the complex, and 3) establish a non-invasive sampling technique that can be useful in future studies of amphibian populations. Results of this study indicate cytochrome b was not a useful molecular marker to distinguish between the two species in the gray treefrog complex. Consequently, the status of individual species distributions remains unknown. Buccal swabs were effective for collection of mtDNA even when stored at room temperature for up to a week.


Dr. William J Stark

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type



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