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Data from: Replicated landscape genetic and network analyses reveal wide variation in functional connectivity for American pikas

Citation

Castillo, Jessica A. et al. (2016), Data from: Replicated landscape genetic and network analyses reveal wide variation in functional connectivity for American pikas, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8j65p

Abstract

Landscape connectivity is essential for maintaining viable populations, particularly for species restricted to fragmented habitats or naturally arrayed in metapopulations and facing rapid climate change. The importance of assessing both structural connectivity (the physical distribution of favorable habitat patches) and functional connectivity (how species move among habitat patches) for managing such species is well understood. However, the degree to which functional connectivity for a species varies among landscapes, and the resulting implications for conservation, have rarely been assessed. We used a landscape genetics approach to evaluate resistance to gene flow and, thus, to determine how landscape and climate-related variables influence gene flow for American pikas (Ochotona princeps) in eight federally managed sites in the western United States. We used those empirically-derived, individual-based landscape resistance models in conjunction with predictive occupancy models to generate patch-based network models describing functional landscape connectivity. Metareplication across landscapes enabled identification of limiting factors for dispersal that would not otherwise have been apparent. Despite the cool microclimates characteristic of pika habitat, south-facing aspects consistently represented higher resistance to movement, supporting the previous hypothesis that exposure to relatively high temperatures may limit dispersal in American pikas. We found that other barriers to dispersal included areas with a high degree of topographic relief, such as cliffs and ravines, as well as streams and distances greater than one to four kilometers depending on the site. Using the empirically-derived network models of habitat patch connectivity, we identified habitat patches that were likely disproportionately important for maintaining functional connectivity, areas in which habitat appeared fragmented, and locations that could be targeted for management actions to improve functional connectivity. We concluded that climate change, besides influencing patch occupancy as predicted by other studies, may alter landscape resistance for pikas, thereby influencing functional connectivity through multiple pathways simultaneously. Spatial autocorrelation among genotypes varied across study sites and was largest where habitat was most dispersed, suggesting that dispersal distances increased with habitat fragmentation, up to a point. This study demonstrates how landscape features linked to climate can affect functional connectivity for species with naturally fragmented distributions, and reinforces the importance of replicating studies across landscapes.

Usage Notes

Location

Lassen Volcanic National Park (LAVO) California
Crater Lake National Park (CRLA) Oregon
Craters of the Moon National Monument (CRMO) Idaho
Great Sand Dunes National Park (GRSA) Colorado
Grand Teton National Park (GRTE) Wyoming
Lava Beds National Monument (LABE) California
Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (SHWR) Nevada
Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO) Colorado
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (HMAR) Oregon