Landscape resistance and American marten gene flow
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- Koen, E.L., Bowman, J., Garroway, C.J. et al. Landscape Ecol (2012) 27: 29. doi:10.1007/s10980-011-9675-2
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Landscape heterogeneity can influence animal dispersal by causing a directional bias in dispersal rate, as certain landscape configurations might promote, impede, or prevent movement and gene flow. In forested landscapes, logging operations often contribute to heterogeneity that can reduce functional connectivity for some species. American martens (Martes americana) are one such species, as they are considered specialists of late-seral coniferous forests. We assessed marten gene flow to test the hypothesis that habitat management has maintained landscape connectivity for martens in the managed forests of Ontario, Canada. We genotyped 653 martens at 12 microsatellite loci, sampled from 29 sites across Ontario. We expected that if forest management has an effect on marten gene flow, we would see a correlation between effective resistance, estimated by circuit theory, and genetic distance, estimated by population graphs. Although we found a positive relationship between effective resistance and genetic distance (Mantel r = 0.249, P < 0.001), marten gene flow was better described by isolation by Euclidean distance (Mantel r = 0.410, P < 0.001). Our results suggest that managed forests in Ontario are well connected for marten and neither impede nor promote marten gene flow at the provincial scale.