Title: Population Connectivity and Landscape Genetics of the Idaho Ground Squirrel
Student: Jessica Hoisington
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources
Both the northern Idaho ground squirrel (NIDGS) and southern Idaho ground squirrel (SIDGS) are considered species of great conservation need. The northern Idaho ground squirrel is listed as an endangered subspecies while the southern Idaho ground squirrel is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Both species have undergone population declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
An important aspect of Idaho ground squirrel ecology and conservation is evaluating gene flow between isolated populations by identifying how habitat features influence these species movement patterns. We investigated the effects of different landscape features on gene flow for both the NIDGS and SIDGS using several genetic analyses.
We found that landscape features such as elevation, vegetation types, rivers, and slopes did not limit gene flow for NIDGS, however the SIDGS had gene flow limited by the Weiser River suggesting that this landscape feature was an effective barrier to ground squirrel movement. Overall, our results suggest that there is greater connectivity among Idaho ground squirrel populations than indicated in previous studies.
For more information, email the PI: Dr. Lisette Waits