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Population genetics and conservation of the threatened southeastern beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris): subspecies and evolutionary units

, : Population genetics and conservation of the threatened southeastern beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris): subspecies and evolutionary units. Conservation genetics 8(6): 1441-1452

We investigated genetic diversity within the southeastern beach mouse (SEBM-Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris) and also tested the hypothesis that the subspecies recognition of P.p. niveiventris, based on size and color differences, is congruent with this taxon representing a discrete evolutionary lineage. We used ten polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene DNA sequences to investigate genetic diversity and population structure within the SEBM, and to determine the level of divergence between the SEBM and the nearest known inland subspecies of the oldfield mouse (Peromyscus polionotus rhoadsi). Moderate genetic distances were observed between the SEBM and the inland oldfield mouse based on microsatellite data, with F (ST) values ranging from 0.11 to 0.22 between these taxa. Additionally, mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of the SEBM formed a distinct monophyletic group relative to haplotypes sampled from P. p. rhoadsi. Based on previous estimates of rates of mitochondrial DNA evolution in rodents, we inferred that Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations are likely responsible for the historical isolation of the SEBM lineage from mainland P. polionotus. Our data demonstrate the genetic distinctiveness of the SEBM, justifying the current subspecies designation for the SEBM and its continued protection under the United States Endangered Species Act. We classify the Cape Canaveral and Smyrna Dunes Park populations of SEBM as a single evolutionary significant unit. The two known extant allopatric populations of the SEBM showed some differentiation in microsatellite frequencies and were moderately reciprocally distinguishable based on assignment to distinct genetic clusters by a Bayesian admixture procedure. These results justify the classification of these two extant SEBM populations as distinct management units that should be independent targets of management and conservation attention.


DOI: 10.1007/s10592-007-9295-1

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