For Better Genetics, Use Habitat Clusters

by Louise HuntHabitat clusters can improve the genetics of rare species, such as the Florida scrub jay, says a recent paper in Biology Letters.

The research focused on the genetics and available habitat for the Florida scrub jay, but the findings are applicable to other rare species, the paper says.

“We present a detailed case study of one highly fragmented, endangered species (Florida Scrub-Jay) showing the importance of keeping habitat gaps as narrow as possible, in order to maintain gene flow among populations,” says John Fitzpatrick, director of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and one of the authors of the paper. “Habitat gaps greater than a few kilometers separating two populations reduce movement of jays across them sufficiently to cause genetic isolation of the two populations. This highlights the importance of maintaining or restoring habitat ‘stepping stones.'”

Read the paper here — with subscription or fee.
Read the Cornell Lab of Ornithology press release here.
Read the Cornell Lab of Ornithology blog on the topic here.
Read the Volusia County (Florida) web page about the research, while it was in progress, here.

Photo: Florida scrub jay by Louise Hunt, courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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