Effects of multiple founder populations on spatial genetic structure of reintroduced American martens

Authors


Bronwyn W. Williams, Fax: 780 492 9234; E-mail: bwwillia@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Reintroductions and translocations are increasingly used to repatriate or increase probabilities of persistence for animal and plant species. Genetic and demographic characteristics of founding individuals and suitability of habitat at release sites are commonly believed to affect the success of these conservation programs. Genetic divergence among multiple source populations of American martens (Martes americana) and well documented introduction histories permitted analyses of post-introduction dispersion from release sites and development of genetic clusters in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan <50 years following release. Location and size of spatial genetic clusters and measures of individual-based autocorrelation were inferred using 11 microsatellite loci. We identified three genetic clusters in geographic proximity to original release locations. Estimated distances of effective gene flow based on spatial autocorrelation varied greatly among genetic clusters (30–90 km). Spatial contiguity of genetic clusters has been largely maintained with evidence for admixture primarily in localized regions, suggesting recent contact or locally retarded rates of gene flow. Data provide guidance for future studies of the effects of permeabilities of different land-cover and land-use features to dispersal and of other biotic and environmental factors that may contribute to the colonization process and development of spatial genetic associations.

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