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We strive to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that generate and maintain biological diversity using population genomics, experimental manipulations, and field studies. Our goal is to not only test basic ecological and evolutionary theory, but also directly inform policy and management decisions that will ultimately determine the fate of biodiversity.

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Daryl’s paper on puma landscape genomics accepted in Molecular Ecology!

Camera trap photo of mountain lion in the Colorado Front Range (Photo: Jesse Lewis)

Large apex predators are sensitive to urbanization because of their dependence on extensive contiguous habitats to support their large home rages and an abundant prey base. In a paper recently published in Molecular Ecology, postdoc Daryl Trumbo and colleagues performed a landscape genomics study on pumas (Puma concolor; also known colloquially as mountain lions, cougars, panthers, catamounts) using over 12,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 130 pumas across an urban-rural divide in Colorado. This large SNP data set revealed differing patterns of dispersal and gene flow in rural versus urban settings, indicating ecological and behavioral differences in movement patterns between these contrasting landscapes. Although there was evidence that urbanization impacts gene flow and effective population sizes, no effect on genetic diversity was detected. This suggests that Colorado pumas are affected by increasing levels of urbanization in this rapidly growing state, but are not yet experiencing the extensive genomic impacts that pumas are in more fragmented landscapes like southern California and Florida.

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