Conservation Genetics

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 353–366

Genetic structure of mountain lion (Puma concolor) populations in California

Authors

    • Department of Veterinary PathologyMicrobiology, and Immunology, University of California
    • Wildlife Health CenterSchool of Veterinary Medicine, University of California
  • Walter M. Boyce
    • Department of Veterinary PathologyMicrobiology, and Immunology, University of California
    • Wildlife Health CenterSchool of Veterinary Medicine, University of California
  • Vernon C. Bleich
    • Veterinary Genetics LaboratoryUniversity of California
    • Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and WildlifeUniversity of Alaska
  • Bernie May
    • Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and WildlifeUniversity of Alaska
  • San J. Stiver
    • Nevada Division of Wildlife
  • Steven G. Torres
    • California Department of Fish and Game
Article

DOI: 10.1023/A:1024069014911

Cite this article as:
Ernest, H.B., Boyce, W.M., Bleich, V.C. et al. Conservation Genetics (2003) 4: 353. doi:10.1023/A:1024069014911

Abstract

Analysis of 12 microsatellite loci from431 mountain lions (Puma concolor)revealed distinct genetic subdivision that wasassociated with geographic barriers andisolation by distance in California. Levels ofgenetic variation differed among geographicregions, and mountain lions that inhabitedcoastal areas exhibited less heterozygositythan those sampled inland. The San FranciscoBay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, theCentral Valley, and the Los Angeles Basinappeared to be substantial barriers to geneflow, and allele frequencies of populationsseparated by those features differedsubstantially. A partial barrier to gene flowappeared to exist along the crest of the SierraNevada. Estimated gene flow was high amongmountain lions inhabiting the Modoc Plateau,the western Sierra Nevada, and northern sectionof the eastern Sierra Nevada. SouthernCalifornia mountain lion populations mayfunction as a metapopulation; however, humandevelopments threaten to eliminate habitat andmovement corridors. While north-south geneflow along the western Sierra Nevada wasestimated to be very high, projected loss andfragmentation of foothill habitat may reducegene flow and subdivide populations. Preservation of existing movement corridorsamong regions could prevent population declinesand loss of genetic variation. This studyshows that mountain lion management andconservation efforts should be individualizedaccording to region and incorporatelandscape-level considerations to protecthabitat connectivity.

cougargene flowgenetic subdivisionmicrosatellitepopulation structure

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003