DNA reveals high dispersal synchronizing the population dynamics of Canada lynx

Michael K. Schwartz, L. Scott Mills, Kevin S. McKelvey, Leonard F. Ruggiero, Fred W. Allendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Population dynamics of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) have been of interest to ecologists for nearly sixty years. Two competing hypotheses concerning lynx population dynamics and large-scale spatial synchrony are currently debated. The first suggests that dispersal is substantial among lynx populations, and the second proposes that lynx at the periphery of their range exist in small, isolated patches that maintain cycle synchrony via correlation with extrinsic environmental factors. Resolving the nature of lynx population dynamics and dispersal is important both to ecological theory and to the conservation of threatened lynx populations: the lack of knowledge about connectivity between populations at the southern periphery of the lynx's geographic range delayed their legal listing in the United States. We test these competing hypotheses using microsatellite DNA markers and lynx samples from 17 collection sites in the core and periphery of the lynx's geographic range. Here we show high gene flow despite separation by distances greater than 3,100 km, supporting the dispersal hypothesis. We therefore suggest that management actions in the contiguous United States should focus on maintaining connectivity with the core of the lynx's geographic range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-522
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume415
Issue number6871
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 31 2002

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