Spatial genetic structure of four bobcat populations in the southeastern U.S.
Reid, Allison Elaine
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The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a species of conservation and economic importance. However, little is known regarding certain aspects of the bobcat’s life history, such as dispersal characteristics and social organization, both of which will influence the spatial genetic structure of populations. Predictions based on the bobcat’s mating system suggest that the bobcat may exhibit sex-biased dispersal and philopatry. This thesis examined the spatial genetic structure within a well-studied population of bobcats in southwestern Georgia as well as the spatial genetic structure between four populations in Georgia and Florida. We found little evidence of sex-biased dispersal and philopatry, and our data indicate that the four populations were one panmictic unit. Our results suggest that dispersal patterns cannot be predicted from a species’ mating system alone. Moreover, because bobcat populations lack differentiation across large spatial scales, a landscape-level approach to bobcat management may be appropriate.