Ecological and genetic spatial structuring in the Canadian lynx

Abstract

The Canadian lynx, distributed all across the northern part of North America, is well known for its regular population cycles—cycles that have different underlying structures in different parts of Canada. Using both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers, we report here a close resemblance between the earlier observed spatial ecological structuring of the Canadian lynx and its spatial genetic structuring. Specifically, we demonstrate that the Rocky Mountains represent a barrier to gene flow in western Canada, and, somewhat surprisingly, we detect the presence of a geographically invisible barrier south of Hudson Bay (coinciding with the separation between the ecological Continental and Atlantic regions). No evidence for isolation in different glacial refugia within North America was found. We suggest that ecological factors underlying the spatial dynamic structuring also strongly influence the genetic structuring of the Canadian lynx.

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