Fishers (Martes pennanti) were extirpated from much of southern Ontario, Canada, prior to the 1950s. We hypothesised that the recent recolonization of this area originated from an expansion of the population in Algonquin Provincial Park, which historically served as a refuge for fishers. To test this hypothesis, we created a sampling lattice to encompass Algonquin and the surrounding area, and we collected contemporaneous DNA samples. We sampled fishers from each of 35 sites and genotyped them at 16 microsatellite loci. Using a Bayesian assignment approach, with no a priori geographic information, we inferred 5 discrete genetic populations and used genetic population assignment as a means to cluster sites together. We concluded that the Algonquin Park fisher population has not been a substantial source for recolonization and expansion, which has instead occurred from a number of remnant populations within Ontario, Quebec, and most recently from the Adirondacks in New York, USA. The genetic structure among sampling sites across the entire area revealed a pattern of isolation-by-distance (IBD). However, an examination of the distribution of genetic structure (FST/1−FST) at different distances showed higher rates of gene flow than predicted under a strict IBD model at small distances (40 km) within clusters and at larger distances up to 100 km among clusters. This pattern of genetic structure suggests increased migration and gene flow among expanding reproductive fronts.
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Vol. 71 • No. 6