Urbanization impacts apex predator gene flow but not genetic diversity across an urban-rural divide

Daryl R. Trumbo, Patricia E. Salerno, Kenneth A. Logan, Mathew W. Alldredge, Roderick B. Gagne, Christopher P. Kozakiewicz, Simona Kraberger, Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones, Meggan E. Craft, Scott Carver, Holly B. Ernest, Kevin R. Crooks, Sue VandeWoude, W. Chris Funk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Apex predators are important indicators of intact natural ecosystems. They are also sensitive to urbanization because they require broad home ranges and extensive contiguous habitat to support their prey base. Pumas (Puma concolor) can persist near human developed areas, but urbanization may be detrimental to their movement ecology, population structure, and genetic diversity. To investigate potential effects of urbanization in population connectivity of pumas, we performed a landscape genomics study of 130 pumas on the rural Western Slope and more urbanized Front Range of Colorado, USA. Over 12,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped using double-digest, restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (ddRADseq). We investigated patterns of gene flow and genetic diversity, and tested for correlations between key landscape variables and genetic distance to assess the effects of urbanization and other landscape factors on gene flow. Levels of genetic diversity were similar for the Western Slope and Front Range, but effective population sizes were smaller, genetic distances were higher, and there was more admixture in the more urbanized Front Range. Forest cover was strongly positively associated with puma gene flow on the Western Slope, while impervious surfaces restricted gene flow and more open, natural habitats enhanced gene flow on the Front Range. Landscape genomic analyses revealed differences in puma movement and gene flow patterns in rural versus urban settings. Our results highlight the utility of dense, genome-scale markers to document subtle impacts of urbanization on a wide-ranging carnivore living near a large urban center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4926-4940
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • effective population size
  • gene flow
  • genetic diversity
  • landscape genomics
  • Puma concolor
  • urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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