This study examined the influence of landscape heterogeneity on genetic differentiation between migratory bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) populations in Glacier National Park, Montana. An information-theoretic approach was used to compare different conceptual models of dispersal associated with barriers, different models of isolation by distance, and the combined effects of barriers, waterway distance, patch size, and intra- and inter-drainage distribution of populations on genetic differentiation between bull trout populations. The effect of distance between populations on genetic differentiation was best explained by partitioning the effects of mainstem and tributary stream sections. Models that categorized barriers as having a one-way effect (i.e. allowed downstream dispersal) or a two-way effect were best supported. Additionally, patch size and the distribution of populations among drainages influenced genetic differentiation. Genetic differentiation between bull trout populations in Glacier National Park is linked to landscape features that restrict dispersal. However, this analysis illustrates that modelling variability within landscape features, such as dispersal corridors, will benefit landscape genetic analyses. Additionally, the framework used for evaluating the effects of barriers must consider not just barrier presence, but also potential asymmetries in barrier effects with respect to the organism under investigation.
Additional publication details
Landscape influences on genetic differentiation among bull trout populations in a stream-lake network