Effects of Urban Habitat Fragmentation in Small Mammals

EPA Grant Number: U915833
Title: Effects of Urban Habitat Fragmentation in Small Mammals
Investigators: Pergams, Oliver R.
Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 2000 through August 1, 2003
Project Amount: $84,834
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Biology/Life Sciences , Genetics/Susceptibility/Metabolics , Life Sciences - Molecular Biology/Genetics , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to quantify the genetic and morphological effects of urban habitat fragmentation on: (1) Peromyscus leucopus, the white-footed mouse; and (2) Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii, the prairie deer mouse, in the Chicago area.


The mtDNA COII region will be sequenced and 5 to 8 of 11 recently published microsatellite loci will be scored. Genetic distance between populations, hierarchical F-statistics to measure population structure and subdivision, and loss of alleles in populations, over time will be calculated. In addition, correlation of genetic distance with geographic distance, and reduced population variability with patch size will be evaluated. To analyze morphological change, 12 cranial and four external measurements will be used to perform discriminant function analysis on the five temporal classes to determine the existence, degree, and direction of possible microevolution. An evaluation to determine whether morphological changes have been guided by directional selection will be conducted by determining if any changes across populations over time have been in similar directions.

Expected Results:

It is hypothesized that populations of P. leucopus isolated in habitat patches by urbanization over the past 150 years have become genetically more distinct between populations, and less genetically varied within populations, due to the forces of genetic drift and possibly selection. Also, a unique opportunity exists to document the genetic change in P. maniculatus bairdii populations that have become endangered. It is hypothesized that these populations also became less genetically varied over time due to the forces of genetic drift. Based on these findings in Channel Island deer mice, it also is hypothesized that microevolution has acted on the morphology of Chicago-area Peromyscus isolated in habitat islands, possibly by selecting for smaller body size as in the Channel Islands.

Supplemental Keywords:

Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii, Peromyscus leucopus, Spermophilus franklinii, urban habitat fragmentation, genetic drift, microevolution, ancient DNA, extinction prediction, microsatellite DNA, mtDNA COII, museum collections., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, wildlife, Habitat, Ecology and Ecosystems, Biology, urban habitat, peromyscus maniculatus bairdii (prairie deer mouse), prairie deer mouse, peromyscus leucopus, urban habitat fragmentation, habitat fragmentation, peromyscus leucopus (white-footed mouse), small mammals, perpmyscus maniculatus bairdii, effects of fragmentation, ancient DNA, white-footed mouse

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final