Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 1049–1059 | Cite as

Fine scale population genetic structure of pumas in the Intermountain West

Research Article


In this study, I examined the population genetic structure of subpopulations of pumas (Puma concolor) in Idaho and surrounding states. Patterns of genetic diversity, population structure, levels of inbreeding, and the relationship between genetic differentiation and dispersal distance within and between 15 subpopulations of pumas were compared. Spatial analyses revealed that the Snake River plain was an important barrier to movement between northern and southern regions of Idaho. In addition, subpopulations south of the Snake River plain exhibited lower levels of genetic diversity, higher levels of inbreeding, and a stronger pattern of isolation by distance relative to subpopulations north of the Snake River plain. Lower levels of diversity and restricted gene flow are likely the result of historically lower population sizes in conjunction with more recent changes in habitat use and available dispersal corridors for movement. The subdivision of puma populations north and south of the Snake River plain, along with the patterns of genetic diversity within regions, indicate that landscape features are affecting the population genetic structure of pumas in Idaho. These results indicate that information about the effects of landscape features on the distribution of genetic diversity should be considered when designing plans for the management and conservation of pumas.


Microsatellites Population structure Genetic diversity Gene flow Puma Puma concolor 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation-Idaho EPSCoR Program (EPS-9720634) and National Science Foundation grants (IBN-0091735) to Margaret B. Ptacek and by grants from the Department of Biological Sciences and the Graduate Student Research and Scholarship Committee at Idaho State University to JLL. I would like to thank Margaret Ptacek for providing funding and advice on data analysis and manuscript preparation. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), Nevada Division of Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, W. Glenn, and J. Laundré provided the samples included in this study. I also thank C. Anderson, J. Crenshaw, T. Ferguson, J. Hayden, M. Scott, and R. Smith from IDFG and J. Laundré for information on dispersal corridors and habitat use by pumas throughout the state. I am grateful to E. Keeley for advice on statistical analyses, K. Barr for assistance with the cluster analysis, and to M. Culver, V. David, and E. O’Leary-Jepsen for providing advice on microsatellite techniques. S. Blum, D. Oldham, G. Pearce, M. Whitmore, J. Wiklund, and H. Rosa Worley assisted with the data collection. Earlier versions of this manuscript were greatly improved by the comments of C. Baer, E. Keeley, B. Sacks, M. Small, and R. Wayne.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Stop 8007Idaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA

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