TimStout wrote: Brent,
Is there enough known about the locations (size, seperation, crossover etc.) of these populations of auratus to make a determination or do we rely on the collectors/farmers word of original collection/population site.
I think we have a lot more information than we realize. Many serious froggers have traveled to the tropics and documented morphs of frogs they have encountered at various locations. At one of the late night IAD discussions Chuck N. gave a beautiful travelogue of the auratus morphs encountered as one moves from north to south. Pumilio and auratus seem particularly well documented. Of course you can't always look at one of these frogs and know for certain where it came from and there is no substitute for actual collection data if frogs are to be bred for conservation purposes, but there is a fair amount of information to let us make educated guesses about who should breed with who. I think shipment information can be really useful as well but, as you say, there is no way of knowing whether a collector or farmer has collected their animals from the same locale or kept animals separated by locality. Exactly what constitutes a "locality" is not always clear either. We also don't have great information (other than island populations) about where genetic bottlenecks might occur leading to separations of populations. I think widespread morphs like blue jeans pumilio are a particular problem. Are they widespread because because they have one large interbreeding population, or are there many subpopulations that just happen to exhibit a similar morph.
It's interesting that Dave mentioned Matt's Panamanian auratus because Matt and I talked about them quite a bit. I have "Costa Rican" auratus and I could see absolutely no difference in size, color, or pattern between the two. These fit with photos I've seen of the Carribean versant of Costa Rican auratus. It's possible that Panama and Costa Rica share the same large wild population. However, I have no supporting evidence that my frogs actually derived from Costa Rican stock other than that's what they were sold as and the fact that they match the morph of frogs found there. If I recall correctly, Matt's Panamanian have a similar background. Given these hazy backgrounds, I probably wouldn't get in a huge twist over interbreeding them. However, if one of the groups of frogs had information that would tend to link them with a particular country, then I would probably keep them apart. Because of these gradations in evidence supporting a frog's origin and different burdens of proof needed to use frogs for various reasons, I proposed a few years ago that guidelines support several grades of frog (e.g. scientific grade, hobbyist grade, general grade). I think somewhere in the frognet archives is even a list of lines of evidence that I felt would be needed to support each grade. Of course it fell flat on its face like most of my ideas.