Functional connectivity of the white-footed mouse in Southern Quebec, Canada
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The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is an important reservoir host for the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease in eastern North-America. Indigenous cases of Lyme disease in southern Quebec have increased from two cases in 2004 to 160 cases in 2015. Because of the strong relationship between the white-footed mouse occurrence and the Lyme disease pathogen prevalence, we can estimate the risk of Lyme disease by finding areas of high contact between mice. In this study, we inferred the movement patterns and contact rate of the white-footed mouse in southern Quebec.
We used pattern-orientated modelling to estimate a directional measure of functional connectivity from an Individual-Based Model. We replicated the spatial pattern observed in previously published molecular analysis of a white-footed mouse population.
A perceptual range of 80 m best explained the genetic structure of the white-footed mouse in the region. The paths of individuals generally overlapped the edges of urban centers and the boundary of linear obstacles such as highways and water bodies. We show that the contact probability of mice was a good predictor of the number of mice caught in the field.
Our findings highlight the usefulness of individual-based models to potentially predict high contact areas and disease hotspots across landscapes.
KeywordsFunctional connectivity Individual-based model Lyme disease Pattern-oriented modelling Perceptual range Stochastic movement simulator
RRM is supported by an NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship. AG is supported by a Killam Fellowship, the Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology, a Canada Research Chair and NSERC. VM is supported by a NSERC Discovery Grant. We wish to thank two anonymous reviewers, and SW Seagle for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.
RRM, AG and VM conceived the ideas; RRM designed methodology; RRM analysed the data; RRM led the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.
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