CONSERVATION BIOLOGY - Complex effects of habitat amount and fragmentation on functional connectivity and inbreeding in a giant panda populationDOWNLOAD FILE
CONSERVATION BIOLOGY - Complex effects of habitat amount and fragmentation on functional connectivity and inbreeding in a giant panda population
The relationships between habitat amount and fragmentation level and functional connectivity and inbreeding remain unclear. Thus, we used genetic algorithms to optimize the transformation of habitat area and fragmentation variables into resistance surfaces to predict genetic structure and examined habitat area and fragmentation effects on inbreeding through a moving window and spatial autoregressive modeling approach. We applied these approaches to a wild giant panda population. The amount of habitat and its level of fragmentation had nonlinear effects on functional connectivity (gene flow) and inbreeding. Functional connectivity was highest when approximately 80% of the surrounding landscape was habitat. Although the relationship between habitat amount and inbreeding was also nonlinear, inbreeding increased as habitat increased until about 20% of the local landscape contained habitat, after which inbreeding decreased as habitat increased. Because habitat fragmentation also had nonlinear relationships with functional connectivity and inbreeding, we suggest these important responses cannot be effectively managed by minimizing or maximizing habitat or fragmentation. Our work offers insights for prioritization of protected areas.