Brian Hand

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Brian and son

Assistant Research Professor

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Office Phone:  982-3301   x245

I work in the burgeoning field of landscape genetics which combines landscape ecology, computer science and spatial statistics. I'm interested in using problem solving techniques (algorithms) from the field of computer science to answer important conservation problems. My main PhD work focused on the study of how an animal's genetic relatedness (and structure) is impacted by the composition of the terrain they inhabit. At the FLBS, I work in the area of riverscape genetics modeling where I focus on the future impact of climate change on endangered species like steelhead, bull trout and Chinook salmon. One of my greatest interests is to develop a web-based platform that will help to revolutionize the field of conservation genetics by providing managers and researchers with powerful new software tools. When I am not trying to save the world at my computer, I enjoy running and taking time with my family outdoors.


  • Ph.D., 2013, University of Montana, Computational Biology
  • M.S., 2010, University of Montana, Computer Science
  • B.S., 2004, University of Montana, Physics and Astronomy

Brian's C.V.


GARM (v1.2.1) (Linux only, 61MB) - A Genetic Algorithm for Resistance Map creation (GARM) attempts to converge upon the optimal solution to relate landscape features to genetic structure with the additional attribute of finding the weighted resistance of each landscape feature. GARM is a new tool to aid in understanding genetic connectivity by developing a more rigorous approach to corridor and barrier modeling in landscape genetics. The updated version of GARM has the addition of the option to run Circuitscape and least-cost path connectivity models. Also, this version includes new statistical tests (Rv-coefficient, and tb-RDA). This version has a substantial increase in the number of dependencies needed to install and is only currently supported on a Linux operating system.

To start the install, use the following command to unpack the install on a linux system: tar -zxvf GARM_Install.tar.gz

Then navigate to the GARM_Install folder (e.g., cd GARM_Install) and follow the install instructions in the README_Install file.



  • Hand BK, Kovach RP, Muhlfeld CC, Wade AA, Whited DC, Narum SR, Matala AP, Kimble JS, *Garner BA, Stanford J, Luikart G. (In Press) Climate Variables Explain Genetic Differentiation in a Threatened Species: Replication and Uncertainty Assessment Highlights Important Differences between Steelhead Metapopulations. Molecular Ecology
  • *Garner BA, Hand BK, et al. (In Press) Genomics in conservation: case studies and bridging the gap between data and application. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
  • Hand BK, *Hether TD, Hohenlohe PA, Kovach RP, Muhlfeld CC, Amish SJ, Boyer M, Miller MR, Lowe WH, Allendorf FW, Luikart G. (2015) Genomics of introgression in hybridized populations: discovery and mapping thousands of species-diagnostic SNPs by RAD next generation sequencing. Current Zoology, 61, 146-154.
  • Hand BK, Lowe WH, Kovach RP, Muhlfeld CC, Luikart G. (2015) Landscape community genomics: understanding eco-evolutionary processes in complex environments. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Doi:10.1016/j.tree.2015.01.005
  • Kovach RP, Muhlfeld CC, Hand BK, Whited DC, Wade AA, DeHaan P, Luikar G. (2015) Climatic and habitat variation is related to genetic diversity in bull trout: implications for vulnerability to climate change. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12850
  • Andrews K, Hohenlohe PA, Miller MR, Hand BK, Seeb J, Luikart G. (2014) Trade-offs and utility of alternative RADseq methods. Molecular Ecology.
  • Hand BK, Chen S, Anderson N, Beja-Pereira A, Cross PC, Ebinger M, Edwards H, Garrott RA, Kardos M, Kauffman M, Landguth EL, Middleton A, Schwartz M, Scurlock B, White PJ, Zager P, Luikart G (2014) Limited maternal gene flow among elk herds in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem revealed by mtDNA. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management. 5, 124-131.
  • Hand BK, Cushman SA, Landguth EL, & Lucotch J (2014). Assessing multi-taxa sensitivity to the human footprint, habitat fragmentation and loss by exploring alternative scenarios of dispersal ability and population size: a simulation approach. Biodiversity and Conservation. doi:10.1007/s10531-014-0747-x
  • Landguth EL, Hand BK, Glassy J, Cushman SA, Sawaya MA (2012) UNICOR: a species connectivity and corridor network simulator. Ecography, 35, 9–14.

Publications in prep or review

  • Hand BK, Raiford DW, Landguth EL, Glassy J GARM: A machine learning algorithm for creating resistance maps in landscape genetics. In prep.
  • Hand BK, Raiford DW, Lowe WH, Cross PC, Anderson NJ, Chen S, Luikart G. Confronting uncertainty in landscape genetics: a case study of elk connectivity in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In Review.
  • Wade AA, Hand BK, Muhlfeld CC, Kovach RP, Whited DC, Luikart G. Assessing species vulnerability to climate change: accounting for adaptive capacity and uncertainty in an assessment of Columbia River salmonids. In Review.
  • Kovach RP, Hand BK, Hohenlohe PA, Boyer M, Muhlfeld CC, Amish SJ, Carim K, Lowe WH, Allendorf F, Luikart G. Patterns of genome-wide admixture across an invasive hybrid zone. In Prep.
  • Wade AA, Hand BK, Kovach RP, Mulfeld CC, Waples R, Luikart G. Assessments of species' vulnerability to climate change: from pseudo to science. In Prep.
  • Ackerman MW, Hand BK, Waples RK, Luikart G, Waples RP, Steele C, Garner BA, McCane J, Vu N, Campbell M. Effective number of breeders estimated from sibship reconstruction: empirical evaluations using captive populations. In Prep.


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updated: 1/14/2016 3:03 pm