Data from: Genomics meets applied ecology: Characterizing habitat quality for sloths in a tropical agroecosystem

  • Emily D Fountain (Creator)
  • Jung Kang (Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, 53706, USA., Center of Quantitative Sciences in Biomedicine, Department of Mathematics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.) (Creator)
  • Douglas J Tempel (Creator)
  • Per Palsboll (Creator)
  • Jonathan N. Pauli (Creator)
  • M. Zachariah Peery (Creator)



Understanding how habitat quality in heterogeneous landscapes governs the distribution and fitness of individuals is a fundamental aspect of ecology. While mean individual fitness is generally considered a key to assessing habitat quality, a comprehensive understanding of habitat quality in heterogeneous landscapes requires estimates of dispersal rates among habitat types. The increasing accessibility of genomic approaches, combined with field-based demographic methods, provides novel opportunities for incorporating dispersal estimation into assessments of habitat quality. In this study, we integrated genomic kinship approaches with field-based estimates of fitness components and Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) procedures to estimate habitat-specific dispersal rates and characterize habitat quality in two-toed sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni) occurring in a Costa Rican agricultural ecosystem. Field-based observations indicated that birth and survival rates were similar in a sparsely-shaded cacao farm and adjacent cattle pasture-forest mosaic. Sloth density was threefold higher in pasture compared to cacao, whereas home range size and overlap were greater in cacao compared to pasture. Dispersal rates were similar between the two habitats, as estimated using ABC procedures applied to the spatial distribution of pairs of related individuals identified using 3,431 SNP and 11 microsatellite locus genotypes. Our results indicate that crops produced under a sparse overstory can, in some cases, constitute lower quality habitat than pasture-forest mosaics for sloths, perhaps because of differences in food resources or predator communities. Finally, our study demonstrates that integrating field-based demographic approaches with genomic methods can provide a powerful means for characterizing habitat quality for animal populations occurring in heterogeneous landscapes.

The data package contains three datasets:
- SNP genotypes for individuals used in the ABC model. File is formatted for the program code used.
- The microsatellite genotypes for individuals used in the ABC model.
- The ecological data used in the ABC model including year captured, life stage, sex and habitat patch the individual was captured in. Time represents the years for the study period with the first year (2010) represented by a zero. Life stage is determined at the time the individual was tracked either 1 for subadult or 2 for adult. Patch represents either cacao (0) or pasture-forest mosaic (1) habitat.
Date made available25-Oct-2017
PublisherUniversity of Groningen
Geographical coverageCosta Rica

Keywords on Datasets

  • agroecosystem
  • dispersal
  • genomics
  • habitat quality
  • kinship
  • sloths
  • Choloepus hoffmani

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