U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Published in Conserv Genet (2013) 14:369–383. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-012-0387-1


The landscape genetics framework is typically applied to broad regions that occupy only small portions of a species’ range. Rarely is the entire range of a taxon the subject of study. We examined the landscape genetic structure of the endangered Point Arena mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa nigra), whose isolated geographic range is found in a restricted (85 km2) but heterogenous region in California. Based on its diminutive range we may predict widespread gene flow and a relatively weak role for landscape variation in defining genetic structure. We used skin, bone, tissue and noninvasively collected hair samples to describe genetic substructure and model gene flow. We examined spatial partitioning of multilocus DNA genotypes and mitochondrial DNA haplotypes. We identified 3 groups from microsatellite data, all of which had low estimates of effective population size consistent with significant tests for historical bottlenecks. We used least-cost-path analysis with the microsatellites to examine how vegetation type affects gene flow in a landscape genetics framework. Gene flow was best predicted by a model with ‘‘Forest’’ as the most permeable, followed by ‘‘Riparian’’. Agricultural lands demonstrated the highest resistance. MtDNA data revealed only two haplotypes: one was represented in all 57 individuals that occurred north of the east–west flowing Garcia River. South of the river, however, both haplotypes occurred, often at the same site suggesting that the river may have affected historical patterns of genetic divergence.