Examining patterns of diversity at fine and global spatial scales is an important component of to inferring underlying evolutionary mechanisms, understanding species distributional patterns, and informing conservation. Globally, amphibians and reptiles are among the fastest declining taxonomic groups, and now more than ever, it is necessary to quantify diversity and its spatial drivers in order to most effectively conserve species. In this dissertation, I examine the population, landscape, and conservation genomics of several species along a continuum of endangerment, from highly endangered and on the brink of extinction to widespread and abundant. Throughout, I use large-scale molecular data sets coupled with spatial analyses to examine spatial genetic diversity in these varied species. My goals were to contribute to our understanding of how genetic diversity is distributed across a multitude of landscapes and to provide genetic context for the conservation of these species.
In Chapters 1 and 2, I examined how genetic diversity is spread across the limited ranges of two ecologically disparate species, California tiger salamanders, Ambystoma californiense, in Santa Barbara County, and the Panamint alligator lizard, Elgaria panamintina, found only in the isolated desert mountain ranges of eastern California, and found surprising parallels. In both, I found populations with exceedingly low levels of genetic diversity and genetic effective population sizes. For tiger salamanders, genetic diversity and divergence is strongly correlated with the number of suitable breeding habitats in regional neighborhoods and presence of natural vernal pools, while divergence across the range of E. panamintina is primarily mediated by geographic distance. In both cases, our findings have important implications for how management and mitigation efforts may more effectively assist the recovery and/or protection of these groups. In Chapter 3, I examined the drivers of spatial genetic structure in the widespread southern alligator lizard, Elgaria multicarinata. I found that patterns of genetic isolation are driven primarily by geographic distances, but that regional ecological niches have also diverged. Collectively, my work demonstrates the utility of integrating genetic and spatial analyses across spatial scales to help elucidate how genetic diversity is distributed across variable landscapes.