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, this Working Group will bring together a diverse group of landscape ecologists, spatial analysts, and population geneticists to:
- Examine the applicability of historic and currently used spatial tools for estimating genetic structure with modern molecular data
- Examine the statistical rigor of each combination of statistic and data to test hypotheses about underlying spatial-temporal processes
- Adapt existing and invent new methods for analyzing modern genomic data in a spatial context
- Develop forums for communicating with a broad spectrum of scientists