A landscape ecologist’s agenda for landscape genetics

node based approach for measuring genetic response per focal patch/population
Monday, September 26, 2016 - 9:38am

Our students tackle some of the most challenging landscapes in their pursuit of knowledge, including landscapes of the genetic kind. Recent Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Michelle Dileo (Wagner Lab), published “A landscape ecologist’s agenda for landscape genetics” in Current Landscape Ecology Reports. This paper presents a critical review of the landscape genetic literature of the last five years from a landscape ecological perspective. Landscape genetics, using molecular markers, is a useful tool for studying the effects of habitat fragmentation for species that are hard to track or have cryptic dispersal. However, the typical design of landscape genetic studies limits the ability to quantify the independent contributions of habitat loss versus fragmentation to population genetic structure. In this paper we characterize this important caveat and draw on the landscape ecological literature to pose potential solutions. Specifically we ask:

  1. Are landscape geneticists considering the independent effects of habitat amount versus fragmentation on genetic variation?
  2. Do landscape geneticists equally consider the effects of landscape structure on genetic diversity versus genetic differentiation?