Ecological and genetic spatial structuring in the Canadian lynx

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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 Canada1. Using both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers, we report here a close resemblance between the earlier observed spatial ecological structuring of the Canadian lynx1 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 regions1). 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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Figure 1: Distribution of the sample localities.
Figure 2: Linearized FST plotted against geographical distances between samples.
Figure 3: Distribution of mtDNA haplotypes.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the wildlife managers and trappers that participated in the sampling, especially D. F. McAlpine, R. Lafond, C. Heydon, B. Verbiwski, A. Arsenault, R. Mulders, P. W. Cotter, M. Badry, C. Apps and T. Shury. We also thank Ø. Flagstad and D. Ehrich for discussions. This work was supported by the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Research Council.

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Correspondence to Nils Chr. Stenseth.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

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Rueness, E., Stenseth, N., O'Donoghue, M. et al. Ecological and genetic spatial structuring in the Canadian lynx. Nature 425, 69–72 (2003) doi:10.1038/nature01942

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