Movement behavior explains genetic differentiation in American black bears

Samuel A. Cushman, Jesse S. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Individual-based landscape genetic analyses provide empirically based models of gene flow. It would be valuable to verify the predictions of these models using independent data of a different type. Analyses using different data sources that produce consistent results provide strong support for the generality of the findings. Mating and dispersal movements are the mechanisms through which gene flow operates in animal populations. The best means to verify landscape genetic predictions would be to use movement data to independently predict landscape resistance. We used path-level, conditional logistic regression to predict landscape resistance for American black bear (Ursus americanus) in a landscape in which previous work predicted population connectivity using individual-based landscape genetics. We found consistent landscape factors influence genetic differentiation and movement path selection, with strong similarities between the predicted landscape resistance surfaces. Genetic differentiation in American black bear is driven by spring movement (mating and dispersal) in relation to residential development, roads, elevation and forest cover. Given the limited periods of the year when gene flow events primarily occur, models of landscape connectivity should carefully consider temporal changes in functional landscape resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1613-1625
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Black bear
  • Connectivity
  • Landscape genetics
  • Movement behavior
  • Path-level analysis
  • Ursus americanus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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