Maree Todd held the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat for the SNP but with a reduced majority.
Despite hopes from Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie to take the seat, Ms Todd beat their candidate Molly Nolan with 15,889 votes to 13,298.
The result significantly ate into the SNP majority of 3,193 at the last election, but did not cause the upset the Liberal Democrats had hoped for.
The most northerly mainland constituency was seen as a key target for the Lib Dems who hold the seat at Westminister and Mr Rennie had previously predicted the party could take it.
The seat was held for the nationalists by Gail Ross in 2016.
Jamie Stone reclaimed the Westminster version of the constituency for the Lib Dems in 2017, and then held it in 2019, by just 204 votes.
SNP MSP claims independence is ‘key’ to Covid recovery
In her victory speech an emotional Ms Todd thanked her family, particularly her husband John, who suffered a heart attack during the campaign, and their three children.
She said: “Family, as we all know, is not an important thing. It’s everything” and said it is the “privilege of my life” to be elected to her home constituency.
She said gaining independence is “fundamental” to ensuring that the country comes out of the Covid crisis well.
“It is fundamental to our economy thriving. We need all the levers available to counteract the debilitating effect of the Brexit decision foisted on us by Westminster. Whether that’s to rescue our fishing fleet due to the exclusion from markets , or assist our hospitality trade to access the workers they need for their businesses to grow.
“Current Holyrood devolved powers simply are not enough to enable us to mitigate these catastrophes.”
Earlier she said the big talking points of the campaign were national issues like Brexit and the constitution.
“People had a sense and a taste for self government over the course of the pandemic and like what the Scottish Government has done. There was strong support for Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership.”
Defeated Lib Dem ‘proud’ of effort to challenge SNP
Ms Nolan said the Liberal Democrats should be proud of its campaign: “We did what was right: speaking up for rural communities, demanding better healthcare provision and challenging to do more on the climate emergency.
“But turning around a majority of nearly 4,000 in one of the largest seats across Scotland in just a matter of months is no mean feat. I am sorry we couldn’t do it this time.”
- Results: Maree Todd (SNP), 15,889; Molly Nolan (Lib Dem), 13,298; Struan Mackie (Con) 5,170; Marion Donaldson (Labour) 3,016; Tina McCafferty (Freedom Alliance Integrity Society Economy), 289; and Harry Christian (Scottish Libertarian Party) 222.
- Turnout was 36,993 – 64.8%