Landscape relatedness: detecting contemporary fine-scale spatial structure in wild populations
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLandscape Ecology 2016 10.1007/s10980-016-0434-2
Context: Methods for detecting contemporary, fine-scale population genetic structure in continuous populations are scarce. Yet such methods are vital for ecological and conservation studies, particularly under a changing landscape. Objectives: Here we present a novel, spatially explicit method that we call landscape relatedness (LandRel). With this method, we aim to detect contemporary, fine-scale population structure that is sensitive to spatial and temporal changes in the landscape. Methods: We interpolate spatially determined relatedness values based on SNP genotypes across the landscape. Interpolations are calculated using the Bayesian inference approach integrated nested Laplace approximation. We empirically tested this method on a continuous population of brown bears (Ursus arctos) spanning two counties in Sweden. Results: Two areas were identified as differentiated from the remaining population. Further analysis suggests that inbreeding has occurred in at least one of these areas. Conclusions: LandRel enabled us to identify previously unknown fine-scale structuring in the population. These results will help direct future research efforts, conservation action and aid in the management of the Scandinavian brown bear population. LandRel thus offers an approach for detecting subtle population structure with a focus on contemporary, fine-scale analysis of continuous populations.