Movement is an important life history trait that can have an impact on local adaptation, and other evolutionary phenomena. We used a combination of nestbox survey data and genetic techniques (genotyping at 10 microsatellite loci) to quantify patterns of movement in common dormice Muscardinus avellanarius at two distinct sites in the UK: 1) Bontuchel (a natural population) and 2) Wych (captivebred individuals that were reintroduced to this site), over three consecutive years (2006-2008). Both methods revealed a consistent pattern of sex-biased movement (movements by adult males and females) in both populations that allowed isolation-by-distance genetic structure to develop within 1 km. The similarity of data from captivebred and natural individuals indicated that ex situ programing has not significantly altered the natural movement behavior of common dormice; consequently, the two populations could be managed with the same conservation strategies. We also found that the reintroduced dormice in Wych maintained relatively high levels of genetic diversity. This first report of movement patterns in reintroduced and natural populations of M. avellanarius combining genetic and field-survey data highlights the role of genetic studies in the investigation of ecological behaviour and for conservation management.
Research supported by the Malaysian Government and Universiti Sains Malaysia
(USM) for Academic Staff Training Scheme (ASTS). We thank all of the members of the Northwest Dormouse Partnership, particularly Scott Wilson, Rhian Hughes and Iolo Lloyd and the Forestry Commission, as well as all of the volunteers who helped during survey work.
- genetic structure
- common dormouse
- sex-biased dispersal
- population genetics
- species conservation