Environmental and anthropogenic drivers of connectivity patterns : a basis for prioritizing conservation efforts for threatened populations

Gubili, C, Mariani, S ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5329-0553, Weckworth, B, Galpern, P, McDevitt, A ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2677-7833, Hebblewhite, M, Nickel, B and Musiani, M 2017, 'Environmental and anthropogenic drivers of connectivity patterns : a basis for prioritizing conservation efforts for threatened populations' , Evolutionary applications, 10 (2) , pp. 199-211.

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Ecosystem fragmentation and habitat loss have been the focus of landscape management due to restrictions on contemporary connectivity and dispersal of populations. Here, we used an individual approach to determine the drivers of genetic differentiation in caribou of the Canadian Rockies. We modelled the effects of isolation by distance, landscape resistance and predation risk, and evaluated the consequences of individual migratory behaviour (seasonally migratory vs sedentary) on gene flow in this threatened species. We applied distance-based and reciprocal causal modeling approaches, testing alternative hypotheses on the effects of geographic, topographic, environmental and local population specific variables on genetic differentiation and relatedness among individuals. Overall gene flow was restricted to neighbouring local populations, with spatial coordinates, local population size, groups and elevation explaining connectivity among individuals. Landscape resistance, geographic distances and predation risk were correlated with genetic distances, with correlations three-fold higher for sedentary than for migratory caribou. As local caribou populations are increasingly isolated, our results indicate the need to address genetic connectivity, especially for populations with individuals displaying different migratory behaviours, while maintaining quality habitat both within and across the ranges of threatened populations.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Evolutionary applications
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1752-4563
Related URLs:
Funders: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Weyerhaueser, Parks Canada, Shell, BC Ministry of Forests, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Conoco-Phillips, Alberta Conservation Association, NSERC, UCD SEED
Depositing User: Dr A McDevitt
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2016 11:49
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 21:21
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/40495

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