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Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 13;6:29168. doi: 10.1038/srep29168.

Landscape determinants of fine-scale genetic structure of a small rodent in a heterogeneous landscape (Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa).

Author information

1
Cardiff School of Biosciences, Sir Martin Evans Building, Cardiff University, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX United Kingdom.
2
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield, 0028 South Africa.
3
Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institut für Geosysteme und Bioindikation, Langer Kamp 19c, Braunschweig, 38106 Germany.

Abstract

Small mammals provide ecosystem services, acting, for example, as pollinators and seed dispersers. In addition, they are also disease reservoirs that can be detrimental to human health and they can also act as crop pests. Knowledge of their dispersal preferences is therefore useful for population management and landscape planning. Genetic data were used alongside landscape data to examine the influence of the landscape on the demographic connectedness of the Natal multimammate mouse (Mastomys natalensis) and to identify landscape characteristics that influence the genetic structure of this species across a spatially and temporally varying environment. The most significant landscape features shaping gene flow were aspect, vegetation cover, topographic complexity (TC) and rivers, with western facing slopes, topographic complexity and rivers restricting gene flow. In general, thicket vegetation was correlated with increased gene flow. Identifying features of the landscape that facilitate movement/dispersal in M. natalensis potentially has application for other small mammals in similar ecosystems. As the primary reservoir host of the zoonotic Lassa virus, a landscape genetics approach may have applications in determining areas of high disease risk to humans. Identifying these landscape features may also be important in crop management due to damage by rodent pests.

PMID:
27406468
PMCID:
PMC4942783
DOI:
10.1038/srep29168
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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