Landscape genetics and limiting factors

Samuel A. Cushman, Andrew J. Shirk, Erin L. Landguth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Population connectivity is mediated by the movement of organisms or propagules through landscapes. However, little is known about how variation in the pattern of landscape mosaics affects the detectability of landscape genetic relationships. The goal of this paper is to explore the impacts of limiting factors on landscape genetic processes using simulation modeling. We used spatially explicit, individual-based simulation modeling to quantify the effects of habitat area, fragmentation and the contrast in resistance between habitat and non-habitat on the apparent strength and statistical detectability of landscape genetic relationships. We found that landscape genetic effects are often not detectable when habitat is highly connected. In such situations landscape structure does not limit gene flow. We also found that contrast in resistance values between habitat and non-habitat interacts with habitat extensiveness and fragmentation to affect detectability of landscape genetic relationships. Thus, the influence of landscape features critical to providing connectivity may not be detectable if gene flow is not limited by spatial patterns or resistance contrast of these features. We developed regression equations that reliably predict whether or not isolation by resistance will be detected independently of isolation by distance as a function of habitat fragmentation and contrast in resistance between habitat and non-habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-274
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Fragmentation thresholds
  • Landscape genetics
  • Limiting factors
  • Simulation modeling


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