Landscape location affects genetic variation of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis)


Michael K. Schwartz. Fax: (406) 543 2663; E-mail:


The effect of a population's location on the landscape on genetic variation has been of interest to population genetics for more than half a century. However, most studies do not consider broadscale biogeography when interpreting genetic data. In this study, we propose an operational definition of a peripheral population, and then explore whether peripheral populations of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) have less genetic variation than core populations at nine microsatellite loci. We show that peripheral populations of lynx have fewer mean numbers of alleles per population and lower expected heterozygosity. This is surprising, given the lynx's capacity to move long distances, but can be explained by the fact that peripheral populations often have smaller population sizes, limited opportunities for genetic exchange and may be disproportionately affected by ebbs and flows of species’ geographical range.