Genetic variation and population assessment of eastern woodrats in Southern Illinois

Anne Marie Monty, Edward J. Heist, Elizabeth R. Wagle, Robert E. Emerson, Erica H. Nicholson, George A. Feldhamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Until recently, eastern woodrats (Neotoma floridana, Ord) at Pine Hills, Union County, were believed to be the only extant population in Illinois. During 1994, additional populations in adjacent Jackson County were discovered at Fountain Bluff, Horseshoe Bluff, and Little Grand Canyon. Genetic variation among Illinois woodrat populations was estimated based on microsatellite DNA at 6 loci. The four populations were separated by 2-14 km, yet all exhibited significant genetic differentiation. Fountain Bluff was the most geographically isolated population and had the lowest genetic heterozygosity. A sample of individuals from a more contiguous population in Missouri exhibited the highest heterozygosity. Populations were monitored by mark-recapture live-trapping for 39 months at Pine Hills and 19 months at Fountain Bluff. Although the Fountain Bluff population was smaller than the Pine Hills population, seasonal demographics and reproductive output were similar. Natural dispersal from all 4 populations was limited by fragmented habitat, natural barriers, and anthropogenic barriers. Reintroductions of woodrats may be necessary for the species to repopulate formerly occupied sites throughout southern Illinois.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-260
Number of pages18
JournalSoutheastern Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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