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  1. Abstract

    Natural landscape heterogeneity and barriers resulting from urbanization can reduce genetic connectivity between populations. The evolutionary, demographic, and ecological effects of reduced connectivity may lead to population isolation and ultimately extinction. Alteration to the terrestrial and aquatic environment caused by urban influence can affect gene flow, specifically for stream salamanders who depend on both landscapes for survival and reproduction. To examine how urbanization affects a relatively common stream salamander species, we compared genetic connectivity ofEurycea bislineata(northern two‐lined salamander) populations within and between streams in an urban, suburban, and rural habitat around the New York City (NYC) metropolitan area. We report reduced genetic connectivity between streams within the urban landscape found to correspond with potential barriers to gene flow, that is, areas with more dense urbanization (roadways, industrial buildings, and residential housing). The suburban populations also exhibited areas of reduced connectivity correlated with areas of greater human land use and greater connectivity within a preserve protected from development. Connectivity was relatively high among neighboring rural streams, but a major roadway corresponded with genetic breaks even though the habitat contained more connected green space overall. Despite greater human disturbance across the landscape, urban and suburban salamander populations maintained comparable levels of genetic diversity to their rural counterparts. Yet small effective population size in the urban habitats yielded a high probability of loss of heterozygosity due to genetic drift in the future. In conclusion, urbanization impacted connectivity among stream salamander populations where its continual influence may eventually hinder population persistence for this native species in urban habitats.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Urbanization is a persistent and widespread driver of global environmental change, potentially shaping evolutionary processes due to genetic drift and reduced gene flow in cities induced by habitat fragmentation and small population sizes. We tested this prediction for the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), a common and conspicuous forest‐dwelling rodent, by obtaining 44K SNPs using reduced representation sequencing (ddRAD) for 403 individuals sampled across the species' native range in eastern North America. We observed moderate levels of genetic diversity, low levels of inbreeding, and only a modest signal of isolation‐by‐distance. Clustering and migration analyses show that estimated levels of migration and genetic connectivity were higher than expected across cities and forested areas, specifically within the eastern portion of the species' range dominated by urbanization, and genetic connectivity was less than expected within the western range where the landscape is fragmented by agriculture. Landscape genetic methods revealed greater gene flow among individual squirrels in forested regions, which likely provide abundant food and shelter for squirrels. Although gene flow appears to be higher in areas with more tree cover, only slight discontinuities in gene flow suggest eastern grey squirrels have maintained connected populations across urban areas in all but the most heavily fragmented agricultural landscapes. Our results suggest urbanization shapes biological evolution in wildlife species depending strongly on the composition and habitability of the landscape matrix surrounding urban areas.

     
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