Human-altered environments often challenge native species with a complex spatial distribution of resources. Hostile landscape features can inhibit animal movement (i.e., genetic exchange), while other landscape attributes facilitate gene flow. The genetic attributes of organisms inhabiting such complex environments can reveal the legacy of their movements through the landscape. Thus, by evaluating landscape attributes within the context of genetic connectivity of organisms within the landscape, we can elucidate how a species has coped with the enhanced complexity of human altered environments. In this research, we utilized genetic data from eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus ) in conjunction with spatially explicit habitat attribute data to evaluate the realized permeability of various landscape elements in a fragmented agricultural ecosystem. To accomplish this we 1) used logistic regression to evaluate whether land cover attributes were most often associated with the matrix between or habitat within genetically identified populations across the landscape, and 2) utilized spatially explicit habitat attribute data to predict genetically-derived Bayesian probabilities of population membership of individual chipmunks in an agricultural ecosystem. Consistency between the results of the two approaches with regard to facilitators and inhibitors of gene flow in the landscape indicate that this is a promising new way to utilize both landscape and genetic data to gain a deeper understanding of human-altered ecosystems. © 2015 Anderson et al.
Date of this Version
Anderson S.J., Kierepka E.M., Swihart R.K., Latch E.K., Rhodes O.E., Jr. Assessing the permeability of landscape features to animal movement: Using genetic structure to infer functional connectivity. PLOS ONE Volume 10, Issue 2, 26 February 2015, Article number e0117500. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117500