An Interdisciplinary Approach to Advancing Landscape Genetics

Principal Investigator(s): 

Michael Rosenberg, Bryan Epperson, Andrew Storfer

Spatial patterns of genetic variation reflect the way in which organisms move through the landscape, providing a means for understanding population connectivity. Landscape genetics is a nascent field that seeks to describe how landscape features such as mountains, streams and roads influence spatial-temporal processes of population genetics and the ultimate distribution of genetic variation. Whereas traditional ways of estimating population connectivity lack consideration of landscape features, landscape genetics provides the distinct benefit of facilitating tests of the influence of specific landscape variables on dispersal. As a result, landscape genetics holds great promise for ecological research and the development of conservation programs focused on landscape features that facilitate connectivity among populations. Recent advances in high-throughput collection of genetic data combined with increased availability of GIS-based landscape data have outpaced advances in statistical methods.  In response to this need, we will bring together a diverse group of landscape ecologists, spatial analysts and population geneticists to:

1. examine the applicability of historic and currently used spatial tools for estimating genetic structure with modern molecular data
2. examine the statistical rigor of each combination of statistic and data to test hypotheses about underlying spatial-temporal processes
3. adapt existing and invent new methods for analyzing modern genomic data in a spatial context
4. develop forums for communicating with a broad spectrum of scientists.

More information about this research project, participants, and publications.