Molecular Ecology of Disturbance and Range Expansion

Habitat fragmentation and modification are characteristic of the landscape of the midwestern United States over the past 200 years. Conversion of land for agricultural use, the development of roads, and urbanization is expected to restrict dispersal among populations and reduce habitat quality. Meanwhile, populations in the region were established only following glacial retreat approxmiately 12,000 years ago. Our research investigates the relative roles of recent human-mediated disturbance and earlier range expansion in shaping the population genetic patterns in populations. For example, our work has shown, in both a terrestrial salamander (Plethodon cinereus) and a freshwater fish (Semotilus atromaculatus), that while contemporary land use is associated with patterns of genetic variation ancient colonization of the post-glacial landscape have a lasting and possibly larger impact.


Jordan, M.A., D. Patel, K.E. Sanders, and R. B. Gillespie. 2013. The relative roles of contemporary and ancient processes in shaping genetic variation of a generalist fish in a catchment dominated by agriculture. Freshwater Biology58:1660-1671.

Jordan, M.A., D.A. Morris, and S.E. Gibson. 2009. The influence of historical landscape change on genetic variation and population structure of a terrestrial salamander (Plethodon cinereus). Conservation Genetics 10:1647-1658.