Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Effects of forest fragmentation on connectivity and genetic diversity in an endemic and an invasive rodent in northwestern Madagascar

Habitat loss and fragmentation are of concern to conservation biologists worldwide. However, not all organisms are affected equally by these processes; thus, it is important to study the effects of living in fragmented habitats on species that differ in lifestyle and habitat requirements. In this study, we examined the dispersal and connectivity patterns of rodents, one endemic (Eliurus myoxinus) and one invasive (Rattus rattus), in two landscapes containing forest fragments and adjacent continuous forest patches in northwestern Madagascar. We generated genetic (RADseq) data for 66 E. myoxinus and 81 R. rattus individuals to evaluate differences in genetic diversity as well as inbreeding and connectivity in two landscapes. We found higher levels of inbreeding and lower levels of genetic diversity in E. myoxinus compared with R. rattus. We observed related dyads both within and between habitat patches and positive spatial autocorrelation at lower distance classes for both species, with a stronger pattern of spatial autocorrelation in R. rattus. Across each site, we identified contrasting migration rates for each species, but these did not correspond to habitat–matrix dichotomies. The relatively low genetic diversity in the endemic E. myoxinus suggests ecological constraints that require further investigation.

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