Landscape genetics is a rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field that integrates approaches from population genetics and landscape ecology. In the context of habitat fragmentation, the current focus of landscape genetics is on assessing the degree to which landscapes facilitate the movement of organisms (landscape connectivity) by relating gene-flow patterns to landscape structure. Neutral genetic variation among individuals or direct estimates of current gene flow are statistically related to landscape characteristics such as the presence of hypothesized barriers or the least-cost distance for an organism to move from one habitat patch to another, given the nature of the intervening matrix or habitat types. In the context of global change, a major challenge for landscape genetics is to address the spread of adaptive variation across landscapes. Genome scans combined with genetic sample collection along environmental gradients or in different habitat types attempt to identify molecular markers that are statistically related to specific environmental conditions, indicating adaptive genetic variation. The landscape genetics of adaptive variation may also help answer fundamental questions about the collective evolution of populations.
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Vol. 58 • No. 3