Sample design effects in landscape genetics

Conservation Genetics

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DOI: 10.1007/s10592-012-0415-1



An important research gap in landscape genetics is the impact of different field sampling designs on the ability to detect the effects of landscape pattern on gene flow. We evaluated how five different sampling regimes (random, linear, systematic, cluster, and single study site) affected the probability of correctly identifying the generating landscape process of population structure. Sampling regimes were chosen to represent a suite of designs common in field studies. We used genetic data generated from a spatially-explicit, individual-based program and simulated gene flow in a continuous population across a landscape with gradual spatial changes in resistance to movement. Additionally, we evaluated the sampling regimes using realistic and obtainable number of loci (10 and 20), number of alleles per locus (5 and 10), number of individuals sampled (10-300), and generational time after the landscape was introduced (20 and 400). For a simulated continuously distributed species, we found that random, linear, and systematic sampling regimes performed well with high sample sizes (>200), levels of polymorphism (10 alleles per locus), and number of molecular markers (20). The cluster and single study site sampling regimes were not able to correctly identify the generating process under any conditions and thus, are not advisable strategies for scenarios similar to our simulations. Our research emphasizes the importance of sampling data at ecologically appropriate spatial and temporal scales and suggests careful consideration for sampling near landscape components that are likely to most influence the genetic structure of the species. In addition, simulating sampling designs a priori could help guide filed data collection efforts.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Sample design effects in landscape genetics
Series title:
Conservation Genetics
Year Published:
Publisher location:
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s):
Fort Collins Science Center
11 p.
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Conservation Genetics
United States