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Keywords:

  • Adaptation;
  • climate change;
  • conservation genetics;
  • Ochotona princeps ;
  • population genetics – empirical

Abstract

In the face of predicted climate change, a broader understanding of biotic responses to varying environments has become increasingly important within the context of biodiversity conservation. Local adaptation is one potential option, yet remarkably few studies have harnessed genomic tools to evaluate the efficacy of this response within natural populations. Here, we show evidence of selection driving divergence of a climate-change-sensitive mammal, the American pika (Ochotona princeps), distributed along elevation gradients at its northern range margin in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia (BC), Canada. We employed amplified-fragment-length-polymorphism-based genomic scans to conduct genomewide searches for candidate loci among populations inhabiting varying environments from sea level to 1500 m. Using several independent approaches to outlier locus detection, we identified 68 candidate loci putatively under selection (out of a total 1509 screened), 15 of which displayed significant associations with environmental variables including annual precipitation and maximum summer temperature. These candidate loci may represent important targets for predicting pika responses to climate change and informing novel approaches to wildlife conservation in a changing world.