Although habitat fragmentation is recognized as a primary threat to biodiversity, the effects of urban development on genetic population structure vary among species and landscapes and are not yet well understood. Here we use non-invasive genetic sampling to compare the effects of fragmentation by major roads and urban development on levels of dispersal, genetic diversity, and relatedness between paired bobcat populations in replicate landscapes in coastal southern California. We hypothesized that bobcat populations in sites surrounded by urbanization would experience reduced functional connectivity relative to less isolated nearby populations. Our results show that bobcat genetic population structure is affected by roads and development but not always as predicted by the degree that these landscape features surround fragments. Instead, we suggest that urban development may affect functional connectivity between bobcat populations more by limiting the number and genetic diversity of source populations of migrants than by creating impermeable barriers to dispersal.
Additional Publication Details
Urban habitat fragmentation and genetic population structure of bobcats in coastal southern California