The effects of habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of small mammal populations

M. S. Gaines, J. E. Diffendorfer, R. H. Tamarin, T. S. Whittam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present five case studies highlighting the effects of habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of small mammal populations. The studies reflect different spatial scales and components of genetic variation. In marginal and central populations of Sigmodon hispidus we found less allozymic variation within the marginal population, whereas patterns of morphological variability were the converse. In the rice rat (Oryzomys spp.), nucleotide diversity in mtDNA was similar in an island population in the Florida Keys to mainland populations in the Everglades. This observation contrasts with insular vole populations (Microtus spp.), where isolation on islands results in genetic structuring. Temporal changes in abundance in mainland populations had no effects on genetic differentiation (F(sT)values) because subpopulations did not experience bottlenecks. In an experimentally fragmented landscape, fragmentation influenced demographic processes but not genetic structure. We conclude that (1) with extreme fragmentation, small mammal populations become depauperate of genetic variation and differentiate genetically; (2) different components of genetic variation lead to different genetic structuring; (3) spatial and temporal scales should both be considered when examining genetic structure of populations; (4) demographic and ecological processes are more likely influenced by fragmentation than genetic structure; and (5) there is an interaction between demographic processes and genetic structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-304
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heredity
Volume88
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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