MICROGEOGRAPHIC VARIATION IN MITOCHONDRIAL DNA OF MEADOW VOLES (MICROTUS PENNSYLVANICUS
) IN RELATION TO POPULATION DENSITY
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We examined mitochondrial-DNA (mtDNA) sequence heterogeneity on four adjacent trapping grids in an island population of meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) at two different population densities. Four restriction endonucleases revealed 20 different mtDNA composite phenotypes in samples totaling 198 meadow voles. There were significant heterogeneities in the distribution of four common mtDNA composite phenotypes among the four trapping grids, suggesting that there is population subdivision on a fine scale. Genetic distances between grids, mtDNA diversity within grids, and GST also varied during the study period. We found a decrease in genetic distance and an increase in diversity when the population density was high and vice versa when the population density was low. When population density was high, the coefficient of gene differentiation was smaller than the same coefficient observed when the population density was low. These changes in population subdivision and diversity are consistent with theoretical expectations of population structure in which effective female population size and dispersal are the critical variables. The data also support the hypothesis of maintenance of mtDNA diversity by population subdivision, rapid population growth rate, and dispersal.
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