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Hierarchical assessments of gene flow for cryptic and endangered mammals

Sanchez, Daniel Enrique (2021) Hierarchical assessments of gene flow for cryptic and endangered mammals. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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To conserve genetic diversity today is to conserve the evolutionary product of tomorrow. If a species cannot acclimate or shift its range amid environmental change, it must adapt through natural selection. To adapt requires maintenance of genetic diversity (i.e., gene flow from one population to another), the product of which can bestow conservation insight into where and why functional connectivity could be impeded. Gene flow can also be viewed diagnostically whereby the byproduct of a species can bestow conservation insight through occupancy. Cryptic and endangered species, however, challenge the practicality of these assessments with respect to sampling capacity and quality. I conducted three assessments of gene flow (functional and diagnostic) at multiple levels of the biological hierarchy. Using mtDNA phylogeography and ecological niche modeling, I first assessed the Holocene-era range expansion of the spotted bat (Euderma maculatum) for one of the most cryptic and specimen deficient bat species in North America. Climate shifts throughout this era resulted in distinct geographic lineages, facilitating hypotheses into how each lineage may respond to contemporary climate and anthropogenic pressures. I then used 90% of fecal DNA to address landscape connectivity and diet of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius luteus), an Endangered riparian obligate. Patterns of functional gene flow in a landscape suggested drainages genetically structure populations but over-land dispersal should not be discounted as a mechanism of maintaining genetic diversity. Forbs and graminoids were the most important diet items for Z. h. luteus, serving as a source for primary consumption (e.g., seeds) and as habitat for less frequently consumed taxa (e.g., herbivorous insects and false truffles). Seasonal variation in the diet suggested that consumption could be synchronized with the seeding phenology of their herbaceous habitat, particularly into the late summer as they immerge into a potentially 9-month hibernation. These assessments can provide immediate conservation insight for two species but the methodologies involved are also relevant to time and cost-effective monitoring frameworks across a broad range of species.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: diet; ecological niche modeling; landscape genetics; metabarcoding; phylogeography; population genetics; Gene flow; Endangered species;
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences > School of Forestry
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2022 21:26
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 21:26
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5659

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