Landscape genetics of a North American songbird, the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

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Adams, Rachael V.
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Biological Sciences
Understanding landscape influences on the spatial distribution of genetic variation in species is necessary for their successful conservation and preservation. This study investigated both rangewide and fine-scale patterns of population genetic structure of a small resident passerine to North America, the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). Microsatellite data revealed high levels of genetic differentiation across their geographical range, particularly in the west resulting from a combination of historical (e.g., glaciers) and contemporary (e.g., mountains) barriers. Cryptic genetic structure was also observed at smaller spatial scales. Populations in British Columbia are genetically isolated owing to its highly complex landscape, with gene flow restricted to low elevation valleys with sufficient forest cover. In southern Alberta, not only is gene flow restricted to riparian corridors but it is also influenced by natural/ anthropogenic breaks within these continuous linear features as well as ecological zonation, suggesting that chickadees are dependent on habitat quality for dispersal.
black-capped chickadee , British Columbia , landscape influences , southern Alberta , species genetic variations