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Effects of habitat fragmentation on microsatellite genetic structure of populations of white -footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in Indiana

By Catherine Amaris Mossman


Studies of local scale effects of habitat fragmentation on genetic structure have been uncommon until recently. The advent of highly variable molecular markers has made it possible to detect adequate levels of genetic variability at a small geographic scale. In this study, I used microsatellite DNA to determine if there were differences between populations of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in continuous woods and isolated woodlots in terms of within or between population genetic variation. Populations were trapped in pairs that were either 500 m or 2000 m apart. I found significant genetic variation within all populations in terms of number of alleles and heterozygosity estimates, but no significant differences between populations in continuous woods and isolated woodlots. These data suggest that within population levels of genetic variation are similar in the two habitats. I found significant genetic structure at a local geographical scale of 30 km. The amount of genetic differentiation between population pairs was similar in both continuous and isolated habitat. Distance had a marginal effect on genetic differentiation for population pairs at 2000 m over population pairs at 500 m. However, at a larger geographic scale, there was no evidence of isolation by distance. There was no evidence of habitat effects on the amount of genetic differentiation between populations inhabiting agricultural landscapes. Although I did not find isolation by distance at a large geographic scale, there may be local scale isolation by distance effects. With respect to behavioral characteristics of populations, males had significantly higher dispersal tendencies using a genetic based sex-biased dispersal test, although both sexes disperse. Furthermore, aggression levels did not differ between mice in isolated or continuous habitat. These results suggest that P. leucopus have responded positively to habitat fragmentation by maintaining genetic structure and behavioral attributes equivalent to populations in continuous habitat

Topics: Ecology
Publisher: 'Purdue University (bepress)'
Year: 1999
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Provided by: Purdue E-Pubs
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