Genetic relationships of meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) populations in central Appalachian wetlands
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Canadian Journal of Zoology. 86: 344-355.
We sequenced and compared variation within a 375-base-pair segment of the mitochondrial DNA control region of 323 meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus (Ord. 1815)) among 14 populations to determine the influence of past and present landscape connectivity among isolated wetlands in the central Appalachian Mountains. To best explain observed differences among sites, we used genetic and landscape-level (GIS) data to test a null hypothesis (no genetic differences) and three alternate explanations of significant variation owing to founder effects, effective population size, or isolation by distance. Sequencing results revealed 16 distinct haplotypes (1-8 haplotypes/site), with two present in samples from most wetlands, and half of the remaining haplotypes concentrated in specific geographic clusters. Our findings best support the explanation that founder effects have influenced current genetic patterns among sites. These founder effects are likely due to historical land-use activities such as exploitative logging (ca. 1880-1920; creating early successional habitats for voles) and subsequent forest regeneration over the past half century; they were also likely influenced by postglacial colonization patterns. Therefore, current genetic diversity in these populations seems to largely reflect the number and source of voles that successfully colonized these isolated wetlands during the window of opportunity immediately following extensive logging.
Francl, K. E.; Glenn, T. C.; Castleberry, S. B.; Ford, W. M. 2008. Genetic relationships of meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) populations in central Appalachian wetlands. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 86: 344-355.