In a previous study, a model of landscape heterogeneity was developed and applied to a spatially structured wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) population. That study showed clearly the influence of resource heterogeneity on connectivity levels. The simulation study was based on female movements and used population genetic validation data appropriate for a female study. Most models assume that males and females will exhibit similar patterns, although this has rarely been tested. In the current study we extend the analysis to consider differences between female and male connectivity in the same spatially structured pest system. Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers were screened on the same samples used previously for mtDNA analysis. The mtDNA data were used to validate female results, and AFLP data were used to validate combined male and female results. Connectivity patterns from the two simulations (female, and combined male and female) connectivity patterns showed no association. However, each was concordant with appropriate validation data, showing highly significant associations between pairwise population connectivity and the genetic data. A relative connectivity metric for the combined simulation was regressed against the mean of pairwise ?ST values, with almost 70% of the variation explained by a linear model. Demonstrating differential effects of habitat heterogeneity on male and female connectivity provides further evidence that spatial resource heterogeneity impacts on connectivity. Understanding differences in population connectivity will allow improved predictions of disease spread, local extinctions and recolonizations. Furthermore, modelling such differences in pest systems will allow management plans to be better targeted, for example by strategically introducing diseases for control purposes into populations which exhibit high male connectivity to aid spread, but low female connectivity to inhibit recolonization potential after control.
|Author||G. S. Hamilton AND P. B. Mather|
|Secondary title||Austral Ecology|
|Institution||Queensland University of Technology|
|Department||School of Natural Resource Sciences|