Habitat fragmentation is a major extinction driver. Despite dramatically increasing fragmentation across the globe, its specific impacts on population connectivity across species with differing life histories remain difficult to characterize, let alone quantify. Here, we investigate patterns of population connectivity in six songbird species from Singapore, a highly fragmented tropical rainforest island. Using massive panels of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms across dozens of samples per species, we examined population genetic diversity, inbreeding, gene flow and connectivity among species along a spectrum of ecological specificities. We found a higher resilience to habitat fragmentation in edge-tolerant and forest-canopy species as compared to forest-dependent understorey insectivores. The latter exhibited levels of genetic diversity up to three times lower in Singapore than in populations from contiguous forest elsewhere. Using dense genomic and geographic sampling, we identified individual barriers such as reservoirs that effectively minimize gene flow in sensitive understorey birds, revealing that terrestrial forest species may exhibit levels of sensitivity to fragmentation far greater than previously expected. This study provides a blueprint for conservation genomics at small scales with a view to identifying preferred locations for habitat corridors, flagging candidate populations for restocking with translocated individuals and improving the design of future reserves.
- conservation genetics