Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 445–456

Exploring dispersal barriers using landscape genetic resistance modelling in scarlet macaws of the Peruvian Amazon

  • George Olah
  • Annabel L. Smith
  • Gregory P. Asner
  • Donald J. Brightsmith
  • Robert G. Heinsohn
  • Rod Peakall
Research Article

Abstract

Context

Dispersal is essential for species persistence and landscape genetic studies are valuable tools for identifying potential barriers to dispersal. Macaws have been studied for decades in their natural habitat, but we still have no knowledge of how natural landscape features influence their dispersal.

Objectives

We tested for correlations between landscape resistance models and the current population genetic structure of macaws in continuous rainforest to explore natural barriers to their dispersal.

Methods

We studied scarlet macaws (Ara macao) over a 13,000 km2 area of continuous primary Amazon rainforest in south-eastern Peru. Using remote sensing imagery from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, we constructed landscape resistance surfaces in CIRCUITSCAPE based on elevation, canopy height and above-ground carbon distribution. We then used individual- and population-level genetic analyses to examine which landscape features influenced gene flow (genetic distance between individuals and populations).

Results

Across the lowland rainforest we found limited population genetic differentiation. However, a population from an intermountain valley of the Andes (Candamo) showed detectable genetic differentiation from two other populations (Tambopata) located 20–60 km away (FST = 0.008, P = 0.001–0.003). Landscape resistance models revealed that genetic distance between individuals was significantly positively related to elevation.

Conclusions

Our landscape resistance analysis suggests that mountain ridges between Candamo and Tambopata may limit gene flow in scarlet macaws. These results serve as baseline data for continued landscape studies of parrots, and will be useful for understanding the impacts of anthropogenic dispersal barriers in the future.

Keywords

Population genetics Dispersal Movement ecology Feathers Microsatellites Neotropics Andes Barriers LiDAR 

Supplementary material

10980_2016_457_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (236 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 237 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 288299 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Research School of BiologyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.School of Natural Sciences, Zoology, Trinity College DublinThe University of DublinDublin 2Ireland
  4. 4.Department of Global EcologyCarnegie Institution for ScienceStanfordUSA
  5. 5.Department of Veterinary PathobiologySchubot Exotic Bird Health Center at Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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