Separating the effects of habitat area, fragmentation and matrix resistance on genetic differentiation in complex landscapes

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Little is known about how variation in landscape mosaics affects genetic differentiation. The goal of this paper is to quantify the relative importance of habitat area and configuration, as well as the contrast in resistance between habitat and non-habitat, on genetic differentiation. We hypothesized that habitat configuration would be more influential than habitat area in influencing genetic differentiation. Population size is positively related to habitat area, and therefore habitat area should affect genetic drift, but not gene flow. In contrast, differential rates and patterns of gene flow across a landscape should be related to habitat configuration. Using spatially explicit, individual-based simulation modeling, we found that habitat configuration had stronger relationships with genetic differentiation than did habitat area, but there was a high degree of confounding between the effects of habitat area and configuration. We evaluated the predictive ability of six widely used landscape metrics and found that patch cohesion and correlation length of habitat are among the strongest individual predictors of genetic differentiation. Correlation length, patch density and clumpy are the most parsimonious set of variables to predict the magnitude of genetic differentiation in complex landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-380
Number of pages12
JournalLandscape Ecology
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Keywords

  • Area
  • CDPOP
  • Configuration
  • Fragmentation
  • Landscape genetics
  • Limiting factors
  • Simulation
  • Thresholds

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