Elsewhere in this issue of Molecular Ecology, Coulon et al. provide a detailed analysis of population structure of the threatened Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) using genetic markers and compare it to that inferred from previous demographic surveys and observed dispersal behaviour in this species. In contrast to previous attempts at such comparisons, estimates from the two methods are reasonably congruent. Although challenges remain, Coulon et al.'s analyses demonstrate the potential for closing the gap between these alternative methodologies, and ultimately for future genetic surveys to be used confidently in conservation planning.