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      Urban coyotes are genetically distinct from coyotes in natural habitats

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          Abstract

          Urbanization is increasing throughout the world, transforming natural habitats. Coyotes (Canis latrans) are found in highly urban, suburban, rural and undeveloped mountainous habitats, making them an exemplary model organism to investigate the effects of urbanization on animals. We hypothesized that coyotes in natural habitats are more genetically related to distant coyotes in similar natural habitats and less related to coyotes in urban areas due to natal habitat-biased dispersal. We also hypothesized that increasing urbanization would result in decreased genetic diversity due to habitat fragmentation, dispersal barriers and genetic drift. We analyzed 10 microsatellite genetic markers from 125 individual coyotes sampled across a spectrum of highly urban to highly natural areas in southern California. Most coyotes clustered into four distinct genetic populations, whereas others appeared to have admixed ancestry. Three genetic populations were associated primarily with urban habitats in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. In contrast, the remaining population was associated with more naturally vegetated land near the surrounding mountains. Coyotes living in natural areas formed a genetically distinct cluster despite long geographic distances separating them. Genetic diversity was negatively associated with urban/suburban land cover and local road density, and positively associated with the relative amount of natural vegetation. These results indicate that genetic differentiation and loss of genetic diversity coincided with the extremely rapid expansion of Greater Los Angeles throughout the 1900s. Thus, urbanization reduces gene flow and erodes genetic diversity even in a habitat generalist thought to be minimally impacted by land development.

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          The ecology of individuals: incidence and implications of individual specialization.

          Most empirical and theoretical studies of resource use and population dynamics treat conspecific individuals as ecologically equivalent. This simplification is only justified if interindividual niche variation is rare, weak, or has a trivial effect on ecological processes. This article reviews the incidence, degree, causes, and implications of individual-level niche variation to challenge these simplifications. Evidence for individual specialization is available for 93 species distributed across a broad range of taxonomic groups. Although few studies have quantified the degree to which individuals are specialized relative to their population, between-individual variation can sometimes comprise the majority of the population's niche width. The degree of individual specialization varies widely among species and among populations, reflecting a diverse array of physiological, behavioral, and ecological mechanisms that can generate intrapopulation variation. Finally, individual specialization has potentially important ecological, evolutionary, and conservation implications. Theory suggests that niche variation facilitates frequency-dependent interactions that can profoundly affect the population's stability, the amount of intraspecific competition, fitness-function shapes, and the population's capacity to diversify and speciate rapidly. Our collection of case studies suggests that individual specialization is a widespread but underappreciated phenomenon that poses many important but unanswered questions.
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            ADZE: a rarefaction approach for counting alleles private to combinations of populations

            Motivation: Analysis of the distribution of alleles across populations is a useful tool for examining population diversity and relationships. However, sample sizes often differ across populations, sometimes making it difficult to assess allelic distributions across groups. Results: We introduce a generalized rarefaction approach for counting alleles private to combinations of populations. Our method evaluates the number of alleles found in each of a set of populations but absent in all remaining populations, considering equal-sized subsamples from each population. Applying this method to a worldwide human microsatellite dataset, we observe a high number of alleles private to the combination of African and Oceanian populations. This result supports the possibility of a migration out of Africa into Oceania separate from the migrations responsible for the majority of the ancestry of the modern populations of Asia, and it highlights the utility of our approach to sample size correction in evaluating hypotheses about population history. Availability: We have implemented our method in the computer pro-gram ADZE, which is available for download at http://rosenberglab.bioinformatics.med.umich.edu/adze.html. Contact: szpiechz@umich.edu
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              A southern California freeway is a physical and social barrier to gene flow in carnivores.

              Roads present formidable barriers to dispersal. We examine movements of two highly mobile carnivores across the Ventura Freeway near Los Angeles, one of the busiest highways in the United States. The two species, bobcats and coyotes, can disappear from habitats isolated and fragmented by roads, and their ability to disperse across the Ventura Freeway tests the limits of vertebrates to overcome anthropogenic obstacles. We combine radio-telemetry data and genetically based assignments to identify individuals that have crossed the freeway. Although the freeway is a significant barrier to dispersal, we find that carnivores can cross the freeway and that 5-32% of sampled carnivores crossed over a 7-year period. However, despite moderate levels of migration, populations on either side of the freeway are genetically differentiated, and coalescent modelling shows their genetic isolation is consistent with a migration fraction less than 0.5% per generation. These results imply that individuals that cross the freeway rarely reproduce. Highways and development impose artificial home range boundaries on territorial and reproductive individuals and hence decrease genetically effective migration. Further, territory pile-up at freeway boundaries may decrease reproductive opportunities for dispersing individuals that do manage to cross. Consequently, freeways are filters favouring dispersing individuals that add to the migration rate but little to gene flow. Our results demonstrate that freeways can restrict gene flow even in wide-ranging species and suggest that for territorial animals, migration levels across anthropogenic barriers need to be an order of magnitude larger than commonly assumed to counteract genetic differentiation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Urban Ecology
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                2058-5543
                2020
                January 01 2020
                2020
                January 01 2020
                May 04 2020
                : 6
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263, USA
                [2 ]Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, National Park Service, 401 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, USA
                Article
                10.1093/jue/juaa010
                © 2020

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