Alternative Quantifications of Landscape Complementation to Model Gene Flow in Banded Longhorn Beetles [Typocerus v. velutinus (Olivier)]


Rapid progression of human socio-economic activities has altered the structure and function of natural landscapes. Species that rely on multiple, complementary habitat types (i.e., landscape complementation) to complete their life cycle may be especially at risk. However, such landscape complementation has received little attention in the context of landscape connectivity modeling. A previous study on flower longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae Lepturinae) integrated landscape complementation into a continuous habitat suitability ‘surface’, which was then used to quantify landscape connectivity between pairs of sampling sites using gradient-surface metrics. This connectivity model was validated with molecular genetic data collected for the banded longhorn beetle (Typocerus v. velutinus) in Indiana, United States. However, this approach has not been compared to alternative models in a landscape genetics context. Here, we used a discrete land use/land cover map to calculate landscape metrics related to landscape complementation based on a patch mosaic model (PMM) as an alternative to the previously published, continuous habitat suitability model (HSM). We evaluated the HSM surface with gradient surface metrics (GSM) and with two resistance-based models (RBM) based on least cost path (LCP) and commute distance (CD), in addition to an isolation-by-distance (IBD) model based on Euclidean distance. We compared the ability of these competing models of connectivity to explain pairwise genetic distances (RST) previously calculated from ten microsatellite genotypes of 454 beetles collected from 17 sites across Indiana, United States. Model selection with maximum likelihood population effects (MLPE) models found that GSM were most effective at explaining pairwise genetic distances as a proxy for gene flow across the landscape, followed by the landscape metrics calculated from the PMM, whereas the LCP model performed worse than both the CD and the isolation by distance model. We argue that the analysis of a continuous HSM with GSM might perform better because of their combined ability to effectively represent and quantify the continuous degree of landscape complementation (i.e., availability of complementary habitats in vicinity) found at and in-between sites, on which these beetles depend. Our findings may inform future studies that seek to model habitat connectivity in complex heterogeneous landscapes as natural habitats continue to become more fragmented in the Anthropocene.

Frontiers in Genetics