Evaluating the effectiveness of corridors: A genetic approach

  • Mech S
  • Hallett J
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The effectiveness of corridors in maintaining dispersal in fragmented landscapes is a question of considerable conservation and ecological importance. We tested the efficacy of corridors as residual landscape structures in maintaining population structure in the red-backed vole (Clethrionomys gapperi), a closed-canopy specialist, and the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), a habitat generalist. In coniferous forests managed for timber production in northeastern Washington, we sampled pairs of populations in three landscape classes: (1) contiguous landscapes, in which sites were located completely within a matrix of closed-canopy forest; (2) corridor landscapes, in which sites were separated from one another by clearcut or young regeneration stands. For each species, we used four microsatellite loci to quantify genetic distance between population pairs. Nei's genetic distance (D-2) increased from smallest to largest in the order of contiguous, corridor, and isolated landscapes for C. gapperi. For P. maniculatus, genetic distances across landscape configurations were not significantly different. The differences between the two species indicate that they respond differently to the presence of forest corridors. In managed forests, corridors between unlogged habitats appear to maintain higher population connectivity for C. gapperi than landscapes without corridors.

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  • Stephen G. Mech

  • James G. Hallett

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