Population structure and landscape genetics of western ruffed grouse

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Jensen, Ashley Marie
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : Universtiy of Lethbridge, Department of Biological Sciences
This study was the first to examine the genetic structure of a widespread game bird, the Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus). We uncovered multiple factors acting in concert that are likely responsible for mediating contemporary population connectivity in this species. A combination of autosomal intron, mitochondrial, and high-resolution microsatellite markers revealed many populations of Ruffed Grouse are genetically isolated. Furthermore, the addition of landscape genetic methods not only corroborated genetic structure results, but also uncovered compelling evidence that dispersal resistance created by unsuitable habitat is the most important factor mediating population connectivity among the sampled populations. Our data revealed evidence of high elevation mountains acting as dispersal barriers, as well as two corridors creating limited connectivity among populations that are otherwise isolated by the Rocky Mountains. This research may have implications for both our study species and other inhabitants of the early successional forest habitat required by Ruffed Grouse.
landscape genetics , wildlife , population genetics , population ecology , biogeography , Ruffed grouse--Research , Ruffed grouse--Dispersal , Ruffed grouse--Effect of habitat modification on , Animal population genetics--Research , Biogeography , Isolating mechanisms , Molecular population biology , Fragmented landscapes