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    Identifying the environmental features affecting gene flow across a species range is of extreme importance for conservation planning. We investigated the genetic structure of the Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) in Western Iberian Peninsula by analyzing the correlations between genetic distances and landscape resistance models. We evaluated several functional relationships between elevation, vegetation cover, temperature, and genetic differentiation under the original and reciprocal causal modelling approaches. Additionally, we assessed evidence of isolation-by-distance (IBD) in the mongoose population. Original causal modelling identified IBD as the best model explaining genetic patterns in the mongoose population. By contrast, reciprocal causal modelling supported high shrub cover at middle elevations as the best model explaining species gene flow. The results from reciprocal causal modelling demonstrate that the Egyptian mongoose is dependent of ecosystems dominated by Mediterranean shrub cover. Recent land-use changes related to rural abandonment promoted the growth of shrub areas, especially at middle elevations, facilitating genetic connectivity in the mongoose population in those areas, where anthropogenic activities are less intense. The present study should be considered as a model for landscape genetics studies of Mediterranean carnivores in the Iberian range with the aim of better understanding how recent land-use changes affect a broad guild of species.

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    Barros, Tania; Cushman, Samuel A.; Carvalho, Joao; Fonseca, Carlos. 2016. Mediterranean scrubland and elevation drive gene flow of a Mediterranean carnivore, the Egyptian mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (Herpestidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. doi: 10.1111/bij.12867.


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    altitude, causal modelling, Herpestes ichneumon, Iberian Peninsula, landscape genetics, land-use changes, Mediterranean maquis, microsatellites

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