Effects of structural connectivity on fine scale population genetic structure of muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
Article first published online: 29 AUG 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 10, pages 3524–3535, September 2013
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How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(10): 3524–3535
- Issue published online: 19 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 29 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 21 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Received: 16 APR 2013
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery
- Canadian Foundation for Innovation—Leaders Opportunity Grant to AISH
- gene flow;
- landscape genetics;
- least cost path;
- microsatellite loci.
In heterogeneous landscapes, physical barriers and loss of structural connectivity have been shown to reduce gene flow and therefore lead to population structuring. In this study, we assessed the influence of landscape features on population genetic structure and gene flow of a semiaquatic species, the muskrat. A total of 97 muskrats were sampled from three watersheds near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. We estimated population genetic structure using 11 microsatellite loci and identified a single genetic cluster and no genetic differences were found among the watersheds as a result of high levels of gene flow. At finer scales, we assessed the correlation between individual pairwise genetic distances and Euclidean distance as well as different models of least cost path (LCP). We used a range of cost values for the landscape types in order to build our LCP models. We found a positive relationship between genetic distance and least cost distance when we considered roads as corridors for movements. Open landscapes and urban areas seemed to restrict but not prevent gene flow within the study area. Our study underlines the high-dispersal ability of generalist species in their use of landscape and highlights how landscape features often considered barriers to animal movements are corridors for other species.