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Ecological correlates of population genetic structure: a comparative approach using
 

Summary: Ecological correlates of population genetic
structure: a comparative approach using
a vertebrate metacommunity
Mollie K. Manier* and Stevan J. Arnold
Department of Zoology, 3029 Cordley Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-2914, USA
Identifying ecological factors associated with population genetic differentiation is important for
understanding microevolutionary processes and guiding the management of threatened populations. We
identified ecological correlates of several population genetic parameters for three interacting species
(two garter snakes and an anuran) that occupy a common landscape. Using multiple regression
analysis, we found that species interactions were more important in explaining variation in population
genetic parameters than habitat and nearest-neighbour characteristics. Effective population size was best
explained by census size, while migration was associated with differences in species abundance. In
contrast, genetic distance was poorly explained by the ecological correlates that we tested, but
geographical distance was prominent in models for all species. We found substantially different
population dynamics for the prey species relative to the two predators, characterized by larger effective
sizes, lower gene flow and a state of migration-drift equilibrium. We also identified an escarpment
formed by a series of block faults that serves as a barrier to dispersal for the predators. Our results
suggest that successful landscape-level management should incorporate genetic and ecological data for
all relevant species, because even closely associated species can exhibit very different population genetic
dynamics on the same landscape.

  

Source: Arnold, Stevan J. - Department of Zoology, Oregon State University
Palumbi, Stephen - Hopkins Marine Station & Department of Biology, Stanford University
Pitnick, Scott - Department of Biology, Syracuse University

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology