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Preferred habitat and effective population size drive landscape genetic patterns in an endangered species

Weckworth, BV, Musiani, M, DeCesare, NJ, McDevitt, AD, Hebblewhite, M and Mariani, S (2013) Preferred habitat and effective population size drive landscape genetic patterns in an endangered species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1769). ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

Landscape genetics provides a framework for pinpointing environmental features that determine the important exchange of migrants among populations. These studies usually test the significance of environmental variables on gene flow, yet ignore one fundamental driver of genetic variation in small populations, effective population size, Ne. We combined both approaches in evaluating genetic connectivity of a threatened ungulate, woodland caribou. We used least-cost paths to calculate matrices of resistance distance for landscape variables (preferred habitat, anthropogenic features and predation risk) and population-pairwise harmonic means of Ne, and correlated them with genetic distances, FST and Dc. Results showed that spatial configuration of preferred habitat and Ne were the two best predictors of genetic relationships. Additionally, controlling for the effect of Ne increased the strength of correlations of environmental variables with genetic distance, highlighting the significant underlying effect of Ne in modulating genetic drift and perceived spatial connectivity. We therefore have provided empirical support to emphasize preventing increased habitat loss and promoting population growth to ensure metapopulation viability.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: The Royal Society
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2020 09:51
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2020 10:00
DOI or Identification number: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1756
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12404

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