|Title||Landscape restoration supports genetic connectivity among populations of a keystone species|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2014|
|Authors||Cosentino B, Schooley R.L, Bestelmeyer BT, McCarthy A., Sierzega K|
|Conference Name||99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America|
|Conference Location||Sacramento, CA|
|ARIS Log Number||319961|
Background/Question/Methods: Restoration of habitats that minimize dispersal costs could be essential for supporting population connectivity and the recovery of wildlife species. In the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, grasslands have been replaced with shrubs due to overgrazing, drought, and lack of fire. We tested the hypothesis that landscape-scale restoration of grasslands affects gene flow among populations of banner-tailed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis). Dipodomys spectabilis is a keystone species that creates habitat heterogeneity and alters plant and animal communities. Restoration treatments are known to reduce shrub cover and increase grass cover, and the density of D. spectabilis responds positively to treatments. However, the response of D. spectabilis is strongly time-lagged due to inadequate connectivity to source populations. Insight into effects of landscape structure on dispersal could be helpful for targeting areas for future restoration treatments. We used seven microsatellite markers and landscape resistance models to examine whether restored grasslands and other landscape features (e.g., waterways, roads, slope) affect the degree of genetic divergence among 20 D. spectabilis populations.