Habitat loss and fragmentation (hereafter fragmentation) are some of the largest conservation threats today and will increasingly put pressure on species in the future. Maintaining population connectivity helps mitigate the negative effects fragmentation has on vulnerable species, especially those of conservation concern. In this dissertation, I elucidated the movement ecology of black-capped vireos by 1) estimating and characterizing patterns of gene flow, 2) examining the relationships between land cover and connectivity, and 3) simulating how future populations respond to climatic landscape change. I additionally characterized potential biases in family-wise error rate correction across population genetic studies, a correction important for evaluating the genetic structure of a species. I genotyped 343 individuals at 12 microsatellite loci in and around Fort Hood, Texas, which houses the largest and most stable breeding population. To characterize patterns of gene flow among black-capped vireo populations, I analyzed genetic differentiation, migration rates, number of migrants and parentage. Across these independent analyses, I found evidence for asymmetrical movements from Fort Hood to the other central Texas sites consistent with source-sink dynamics and findings from demographic studies. I used gravity models to test the relationships among Euclidean distance, land cover types (water, developed, forest, scrub, open, agriculture and wetlands), brown-headed cowbird control, and genetic similarity. My findings indicate that wetlands, likely via riparian areas, may be acting as corridors among populations. Better understanding of what factors influence connectivity will be crucial for maintaining connectivity when species of conservation concern are threatened by fragmentation.
|Advisor:||Leberg, Paul L.|
|Commitee:||Duke-Sylvester, Scott M., Moon, Brad, Neigel, Joseph, Sperry, Jinelle|
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||DAI-B 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Black-capped vireo, Movement ecology, Vireo atricapilla|
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