Rocky Mountain Research Station Publications

RMRS Online Publication - Journal Articles, External Publications, and Special Reports
Inferring landscape effects on gene flow: A new model selection framework

Shirk A. J.; Wallin, D. O.; Cushman, S. A.; Rice, C. G.; Warheit, K. I. 2010. Inferring landscape effects on gene flow: A new model selection framework. Molecular Ecology. 19: 3603-3619.

Populations in fragmented landscapes experience reduced gene flow, lose genetic diversity over time and ultimately face greater extinction risk. Improving connectivity in fragmented landscapes is now a major focus of conservation biology. Designing effective wildlife corridors for this purpose, however, requires an accurate understanding of how landscapes shape gene flow. The preponderance of landscape resistance models generated to date, however, is subjectively parameterized based on expert opinion or proxy measures of gene flow. While the relatively few studies that use genetic data are more rigorous, frameworks they employ frequently yield models only weakly related to the observed patterns of genetic isolation. Here, we describe a new framework that uses expert opinion as a starting point. By systematically varying each model parameter, we sought to either validate the assumptions of expert opinion, or identify a peak of support for a new model more highly related to genetic isolation. This approach also accounts for interactions between variables, allows for nonlinear responses and excludes variables that reduce model performance. We demonstrate its utility on a population of mountain goats inhabiting a fragmented landscape in the Cascade Range, Washington.

Keywords: circuit theory, gene flow, isolation by distance, landscape resistance, mountain goat

About PDFs: For best results, do not open the PDF in your Web browser. Right-click on the PDF link to download the PDF file directly to your computer. Click here for more PDF help.

Download Article

PDF File Size: 630 K

Title: RMRS Other Publications: Inferring landscape effects on gene flow: A new model selection framework
Electronic Publish Date: December 7, 2010
Last Update:
December 7, 2010

RMRS Publications | Order a publication | Contact Us