Conservation Genetics

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 1441–1452 | Cite as

Population genetics and conservation of the threatened southeastern beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris): subspecies and evolutionary units

  • Jacob F. Degner
  • I. Jack Stout
  • James D. Roth
  • Christopher L. Parkinson
Original Article


We investigated genetic diversity within the southeastern beach mouse (SEBM-Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris) and also tested the hypothesis that the subspecies recognition of P.p. niveiventris, based on size and color differences, is congruent with this taxon representing a discrete evolutionary lineage. We used ten polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene DNA sequences to investigate genetic diversity and population structure within the SEBM, and to determine the level of divergence between the SEBM and the nearest known inland subspecies of the oldfield mouse (Peromyscus polionotus rhoadsi). Moderate genetic distances were observed between the SEBM and the inland oldfield mouse based on microsatellite data, with F ST values ranging from 0.11 to 0.22 between these taxa. Additionally, mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of the SEBM formed a distinct monophyletic group relative to haplotypes sampled from P. p. rhoadsi. Based on previous estimates of rates of mitochondrial DNA evolution in rodents, we inferred that Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations are likely responsible for the historical isolation of the SEBM lineage from mainland P. polionotus. Our data demonstrate the genetic distinctiveness of the SEBM, justifying the current subspecies designation for the SEBM and its continued protection under the United States Endangered Species Act. We classify the Cape Canaveral and Smyrna Dunes Park populations of SEBM as a single evolutionary significant unit. The two known extant allopatric populations of the SEBM showed some differentiation in microsatellite frequencies and were moderately reciprocally distinguishable based on assignment to distinct genetic clusters by a Bayesian admixture procedure. These results justify the classification of these two extant SEBM populations as distinct management units that should be independent targets of management and conservation attention.


Biogeography Endangered species Evolutionarily significant units Management units Microsatellites Peromyscus polionotus niveiventris 



Funding for this study was provided by Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. We thank the personnel of the 45th CES/CEVR wing and especially Mr. Donald George for support during these studies. We would like to thank Hopi Hoekstra, Alice Bard, Jane Provancha, Alex Suazo, Angie DeLong, Megan Keserauskis, and Donna Oddy, along with field assistants Shannon Letcher, Kasey Gillespie, Meryl Green, David Gunderson, April Verpoorton, Daniel Smith, Weldon Lavigne, and Angie Ashcraft-Cryder, for collecting the tissue samples used in this study. We thank Todd Castoe, Jeff Van Zant, Haakon Kalkvik and Eric Hoffman for comments that greatly improved this manuscript and Lisa McCauley for help with Fig. 1. This work was conducted under permit 12-09-04-01 issued by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of Recreation and Parks, WV04065 issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, TE105642-0 issued by USFWS, and Animal Project # 03-13W from the IACUC, University of Central Florida.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob F. Degner
    • 1
  • I. Jack Stout
    • 1
  • James D. Roth
    • 1
  • Christopher L. Parkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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