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Keywords:

  • American marten;
  • gene flow;
  • genetic structure;
  • isolation by distance;
  • landscape structure;
  • leptokurtic dispersal

Abstract

Natal dispersal in a vagile carnivore, the American marten (Martes americana), was studied by comparing radio-tracking data and microsatellite genetic structure in two populations occupying contrasting habitats. The genetic differentiation determined among groups of individuals using FST indices appeared to be weak in both landscapes, and showed no increase with geographical distance. Genetic structure investigated using pairwise genetic distances between individuals conversely showed a pattern of isolation by distance (IBD), but only in the population occurring in a homogeneous high-quality habitat, therefore showing the advantage of individual-based analyses in detecting within-population processes and local landscape effects. The telemetry study of juveniles revealed a leptokurtic distribution of dispersal distances in both populations, and estimates of the mean squared parent–offspring axial distance (σ2) inferred both from the genetic pattern of IBD and from the radio-tracking survey showed that most juveniles make little contribution to gene flow.