Gene flow links the genetic and demographic structures of species. Despite the fact that similar genetic and demographic patterns shape both local population structure and regional phylogeography, the 2 levels of population connectivity are rarely studied simultaneously. Here, we studied gene flow in the California vole (Microtus californicus), a small-bodied rodent with limited vagility but high local abundance. Within a 4.86-km2 preserve in central California, genetic diversity in 6 microsatellites was high, and Bayesian methods indicated a single genetic cluster. However, individual-based genetic analysis detected a clear signal for isolation-by-distance (IBD) and fine-scale population structure. Mitochondrial cytochrome b sequencing revealed 11 unique haplotypes from the one local area where we sequenced 62 individuals. Phylogeographic analysis of these individuals combined with those sampled from the northern geographic range of the species (the range of the species spans western North America from southern Oregon to northern Mexico and is centered geographically within the state of California) again indicated a lack of structure but a signal for IBD. Patterns of gene flow thus are consistent across spatial scales: while dispersal of the California vole is limited across geographic distance, there is nonetheless considerable movement across the landscape. We conclude that in this species, high local population abundances overcome the potential genetic and demographic effects of limited dispersal.
Adams, Rachel I. and Hadly, Elizabeth A.
"High levels of gene flow in the California vole (Microtus californicus) are consistent across spatial scales,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 70
, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol70/iss3/3