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Spatially explicit models of dynamic histories: examination of the genetic consequences of Pleistocene glaciation and recent climate change on the American Pika


Jason L. Brown, Fax: (919) 660-7293; E-mail:


A central goal of phylogeography is to identify and characterize the processes underlying divergence. One of the biggest impediments currently faced is how to capture the spatiotemporal dynamic under which a species evolved. Here, we described an approach that couples species distribution models (SDMs), demographic and genetic models in a spatiotemporally explicit manner. Analyses of American Pika (Ochotona princeps) from the sky islands of the central Rocky Mountains of North America are used to provide insights into key questions about integrative approaches in landscape genetics, population genetics and phylogeography. This includes (i) general issues surrounding the conversion of time-specific SDMs into simple continuous, dynamic landscapes from past to current, (ii) the utility of SDMs to inform demographic models with deme-specific carrying capacities and migration potentials as well as (iii) the contribution of the temporal dynamic of colonization history in shaping genetic patterns of contemporary populations. Our results support that the inclusion of a spatiotemporal dynamic is an important factor when studying the impact of distributional shifts on patterns of genetic data. Our results also demonstrate the utility of SDMs to generate species-specific predictions about patterns of genetic variation that account for varying degrees of habitat specialization and life history characteristics of taxa. Nevertheless, the results highlight some key issues when converting SDMs for use in demographic models. Because the transformations have direct effects on the genetic consequence of population expansion by prescribing how habitat heterogeneity and spatiotemporal variation is related to the species-specific demographic model, it is important to consider alternative transformations when studying the genetic consequences of distributional shifts.