Natural selection in House mice (Mus musculus) from South Georgia (South Atlantic Ocean)



Mice living in tussock grass on a remote headland of the South Atlantic island of South Georgia (54°S) where the mean temperature is less than 2°C and the monthly average below 0°C for four months each year have been studied. They are big animals (although not as large as those on some North Atlantic islands) and have much brown fat, showing their response to their cold environment. Only two out of 27 gene loci scored electrophoretically were segregating (3·4% heterozygosity); these (Es-6, Got-2) are four cross-over units apart on chromosome 8, and were in strong linkage disequilibrium. There were marked changes in allele frequencies with age which go in opposite directions in males and females, showing the action of stabilizing selection: Es-6a increased from 16% in males of less than three months, to 35% in older animals; it declined in females from 36 to 19%.