Five-year study of the genetic structure and demography of two subpopulations of the Japanese squirrel (Sciurus lis) in a continuous forest and an isolated woodlot
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- Tamura, N. & Hayashi, F. Ecol Res (2007) 22: 261. doi:10.1007/s11284-006-0019-7
The Japanese squirrel (Sciurus lis) is endemic to Honshu and Shikoku, Japan. In suburban environments this squirrel has tended to disappear from smaller and/or more isolated woodlots. In this study, genetic structure was compared from 1999 to 2004 for two subpopulations, one in a continuous mountain forest of western Tokyo and the other in a neighbouring woodlot isolated by a busy road. By sequencing 434 bp of the mitochondrial DNA control region of all 69 squirrels living in the two habitats, nine haplotypes were detected. Both the number of haplotypes and their genetic diversity were lower in the isolated woodlot (5 and 0.62, respectively) than in the continuous forest (8 and 0.79). Yearly comparisons revealed that only two to three haplotypes occurred simultaneously in the isolated woodlot whereas four to six were always found in the continuous forest, although the number of resident squirrels per year did not differ between the two sites. Haplotype dynamics revealed that the female population in the isolated woodlot was in a monotypic state for over two years before immigration of females with different haplotypes occurred. In the isolated woodlot immigration was thus restricted and turnover was lower, particularly among females. Such demographic factors seem to maintain the lower genetic diversity of the isolated subpopulation.