Genetic structure of the white-footed mouse in the context of the emergence of Lyme disease in southern Québec
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 7, pages 2075–2088, July 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(7): 2075–2088
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 APR 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 26 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 8 FEB 2013
- Québec Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune
- Québec Centre for Biodiversity Science
- climate change;
- gene flow;
- Lyme disease;
- Peromyscus leucopus
The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) has expanded its northern limit into southern Québec over the last few decades. P. leucopus is a great disperser and colonizer and is of particular interest because it is considered a primary reservoir for the spirochete bacterium that causes Lyme disease. There is no current information on the gene flow between mouse populations on the mountains and forest fragments found scattered throughout the Montérégie region in southern Québec, and whether various landscape barriers have an effect on their dispersal. We conducted a population genetics analysis on eleven P. leucopus populations using eleven microsatellite markers and showed that isolation by distance was weak, yet barriers were effective. The agricultural matrix had the least effect on gene flow, whereas highways and main rivers were effective barriers. The abundance of ticks collected from mice varied within the study area. Both ticks and mice were screened for the presence of the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, and we predicted areas of greater risk for Lyme disease. Merging our results with ongoing Lyme disease surveillance programs will help determine the future threat of this disease in Québec, and will contribute toward disease prevention and management strategies throughout fragmented landscapes in southern Canada.