Does historical diversity contribute to regional vulnerability in Florida mice (Podomys floridanus)?

American Society of Mammalogists, 95th Annual Meeting, Talk, June 16, 2015

Abstract: The long-term survival of populations is conditioned in part by genetic diversity. In addition to anthropogenic fragmentation of habitat, historical biogeographic processes can strongly shape diversity. We applied a multilocus phylogeographic study to investigate how the late-Quaternary geological events have affected the intra-specific diversity of the Florida mouse (*Podomys floridanus*), a xeric habitat associated species that is currently undergoing status assessment in the State of Florida. Microsatellite diversity (16 loci from 361 mice representing 23 locations) indicates a high degree of geographic structuring. Samples as close as a few kms have moderately high levels of differentiation that can be due to a number of factors. Data indicate structuring is shaped by the discontinuous distribution of the ancient ridges where xeric habitats occur. Further, effects from ecological processes including population bottlenecks or “boom and bust” dynamics that would lead to a relatively strong role for genetic drift –random fluctuation in allele frequencies within populations – may overlay historical processes and lead to higher differentiation. These data provide useful insights into what may be a relatively complex biogeographic structure in Florida mice, and may influence conservation assessment decisions. Patterns of genetic differentiation may indicate that xeric ridges are distinct enough to deserve special attention for wildlife management. We present these results in addition to data collected for a further 200 mice from 15 new locations distributed across Florida.