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Landscape genetics of an endangered salt marsh endemic: identifying population continuity and barriers to dispersal

Citation

Statham, Mark (2022), Landscape genetics of an endangered salt marsh endemic: identifying population continuity and barriers to dispersal, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B81062

Abstract

Preserving the genetic diversity of endangered species is fundamental to their conservation and requires an understanding of genetic structure. In turn, identification of landscape features that impede gene flow can facilitate management to mitigate such obstacles and help with identifying isolated populations. We conducted a landscape genetic study of the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris), a species endemic to the coastal marshes of the San Francisco Estuary of California. We collected and genotyped >500 samples from across the marshes of Suisun Bay which contain the largest remaining tracts of habitat for the species. Cluster analyses and a population tree identified three geographically discrete populations. Next, we conducted landscape genetic analyses at two scales (the entire study area and across the Northern Marshes) where we tested 65 univariate models of landscape features and used the best supported to test multivariable analyses. Our analysis of the entire study area indicated that open water and elevation (>2 m) constrained gene flow. Analysis of the Northern Marshes, where low elevation marsh habitat is more continuous, indicated that geographic distance was the only significant predictor of genetic distance at this scale. The identification of a large, connected population across Northern Marshes achieves a number of recovery targets for this stronghold of the species. The identification of landscape features that act as barriers to dispersal enables the identification of isolated and vulnerable populations more broadly across the species range, thus aiding conservation prioritization.

Methods

Fieldwork to collect samples followed genotyping with microsatellites. 

Funding

California Department of Water Resources