Mammalian Biology

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 52–60 | Cite as

Genetic structure of populations of the Pampean grassland mouse, Akodon azarae, in an agroecosystem under intensive management

  • Noelia Soledad VeraEmail author
  • Marina Beatriz Chiappero
  • José Waldemar Priotto
  • Lucía Valeria Sommaro
  • Andrea Rosa Steinmann
  • Cristina Noemí Gardenal


Agroecosystems in central Argentina are a good example of landscape modification by human activities. We used the Pampean grassland mouse (Akodon azarae) as a biological model to assess the effects of landscape fragmentation on the genetic structure of natural populations present in the region. The species is a habitat specialist that is numerically dominant in relatively stable environments, such as remnant areas of native vegetation, stream borders, roadsides and railway banks. We used seven microsatellite loci to analyze the genetic population structure and to explore if there is sex-biased dispersal during the reproductive season at a fine geographical scale. Rodents were captured seasonally in trap lines located on roadsides in an agroecosystem of central Argentina. Values of genetic differentiation among populations and temporal patterns of spatial autocorrelation revealed that the genetic populations occupy areas larger than the sampling area. Causal modeling analyses showed that unfavorable habitats (secondary roads and crop fields) were not barriers to dispersal of Akodon azarae. The high levels of gene flow and the short duration of the low population density phase, followed by a fast recovery, would contribute to the maintenance of highly polymorphic populations. As expected for A. azarae’s mating system, males were not genetically structured. However, females’ spatial genetic structure varied greatly over the year, which would be related to availability and quality of habitat, and to intrasex interactions. Our work contributes to the understanding of dispersal strategies in small mammals in anthropogenically fragmented habitats like intensively managed agroecosystems.


Akodon azarae Spatial genetic autocorrelation Microsatellite loci Agroecosystem 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noelia Soledad Vera
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marina Beatriz Chiappero
    • 1
    • 2
  • José Waldemar Priotto
    • 3
  • Lucía Valeria Sommaro
    • 4
  • Andrea Rosa Steinmann
    • 3
  • Cristina Noemí Gardenal
    • 2
  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Cátedra de Genética de Poblaciones y EvoluciónUniversidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina
  2. 2.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología Animal (IDEA)CórdobaArgentina
  3. 3.Grupo de Investigaciones en Ecología Poblacional y Comportamental (GIEPCO), Instituto de Ciencias de la Tierra, Biodiversidad y Sustentabilidad Ambiental (ICBIA)Universidad Nacional de Río Cuarto-Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasArgentina
  4. 4.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Instituto de Ecorregiones Andinas (INECOA)Universidad Nacional de Jujuy.San Salvador de JujuyArgentina

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