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1.  Genetic structure, spatial organization, and dispersal in two populations of bat-eared foxes 
Ecology and Evolution  2013;3(9):2892-2902.
We incorporated radio-telemetry data with genetic analysis of bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis) from individuals in 32 different groups to examine relatedness and spatial organization in two populations in South Africa that differed in density, home-range sizes, and group sizes. Kin clustering occurred only for female dyads in the high-density population. Relatedness was negatively correlated with distance only for female dyads in the high-density population, and for male and mixed-sex dyads in the low-density population. Home-range overlap of neighboring female dyads was significantly greater in the high compared to low-density population, whereas overlap within other dyads was similar between populations. Amount of home-range overlap between neighbors was positively correlated with genetic relatedness for all dyad-site combinations, except for female and male dyads in the low-density population. Foxes from all age and sex classes dispersed, although females (mostly adults) dispersed farther than males. Yearlings dispersed later in the high-density population, and overall exhibited a male-biased dispersal pattern. Our results indicated that genetic structure within populations of bat-eared foxes was sex-biased, and was interrelated to density and group sizes, as well as sex-biases in philopatry and dispersal distances. We conclude that a combination of male-biased dispersal rates, adult dispersals, and sex-biased dispersal distances likely helped to facilitate inbreeding avoidance in this evolutionarily unique species of Canidae.
PMCID: PMC3790538  PMID: 24101981
Density; group size; home-range overlap; Otocyon megalotis; philopatry; South Africa
2.  Demographic History of a Recent Invasion of House Mice on the Isolated Island of Gough 
Molecular ecology  2014;23(8):1923-1939.
Island populations provide natural laboratories for studying key contributors to evolutionary change, including natural selection, population size, and the colonization of new environments. The demographic histories of island populations can be reconstructed from patterns of genetic diversity. House mice (Mus musculus) inhabit islands throughout the globe, making them an attractive system for studying island colonization from a genetic perspective. Gough Island, in the central South Atlantic Ocean, is one of the remotest islands in the world. House mice were introduced to Gough Island by sealers during the 19th century, and display unusual phenotypes, including exceptionally large body size and carnivorous feeding behavior. We describe genetic variation in Gough Island mice using mitochondrial sequences, nuclear sequences, and microsatellites. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial sequences suggested that Gough Island mice belong to Mus musculus domesticus, with the maternal lineage possibly originating in England or France. Cluster analyses of microsatellites revealed genetic membership for Gough Island mice in multiple coastal populations in Western Europe, suggesting admixed ancestry. Gough Island mice showed substantial reductions in mitochondrial and nuclear sequence variation and weak reductions in microsatellite diversity compared with Western European populations, consistent with a population bottleneck. Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) estimated that mice recently colonized Gough Island (~100 years ago) and experienced a 98% reduction in population size followed by a rapid expansion. Our results indicate that the unusual phenotypes of Gough Island mice evolved rapidly, positioning these mice as useful models for understanding rapid phenotypic evolution.
PMCID: PMC4086876  PMID: 24617968
Island; House mouse; Mus musculus domesticus; Approximate Bayesian computation; demography; colonization
4.  Response to Klütsch and Crapon de Caprona 
BMC Biology  2010;8:120.
This article is a response to Klütsch and Crapon de Caprona
See correspondence article and our original research article
PMCID: PMC2944130  PMID: 20825654
5.  The IGF1 small dog haplotype is derived from Middle Eastern grey wolves 
BMC Biology  2010;8:16.
A selective sweep containing the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) gene is associated with size variation in domestic dogs. Intron 2 of IGF1 contains a SINE element and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) found in all small dog breeds that is almost entirely absent from large breeds. In this study, we surveyed a large sample of grey wolf populations to better understand the ancestral pattern of variation at IGF1 with a particular focus on the distribution of the small dog haplotype and its relationship to the origin of the dog.
We present DNA sequence data that confirms the absence of the derived small SNP allele in the intron 2 region of IGF1 in a large sample of grey wolves and further establishes the absence of a small dog associated SINE element in all wild canids and most large dog breeds. Grey wolf haplotypes from the Middle East have higher nucleotide diversity suggesting an origin there. Additionally, PCA and phylogenetic analyses suggests a closer kinship of the small domestic dog IGF1 haplotype with those from Middle Eastern grey wolves.
The absence of both the SINE element and SNP allele in grey wolves suggests that the mutation for small body size post-dates the domestication of dogs. However, because all small dogs possess these diagnostic mutations, the mutations likely arose early in the history of domestic dogs. Our results show that the small dog haplotype is closely related to those in Middle Eastern wolves and is consistent with an ancient origin of the small dog haplotype there. Thus, in concordance with past archeological studies, our molecular analysis is consistent with the early evolution of small size in dogs from the Middle East.
See associated opinion by Driscoll and Macdonald:
PMCID: PMC2837629  PMID: 20181231
6.  A Single IGF1 Allele Is a Major Determinant of Small Size in Dogs 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2007;316(5821):112-115.
The domestic dog exhibits greater diversity in body size than any other terrestrial vertebrate. We used a strategy that exploits the breed structure of dogs to investigate the genetic basis of size. First, through a genome-wide scan, we identified a major quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 15 influencing size variation within a single breed. Second, we examined genetic variation in the 15-megabase interval surrounding the QTL in small and giant breeds and found marked evidence for a selective sweep spanning a single gene (IGF1), encoding insulin-like growth factor 1. A single IGF1 single-nucleotide polymorphism haplotype is common to all small breeds and nearly absent from giant breeds, suggesting that the same causal sequence variant is a major contributor to body size in all small dogs.
PMCID: PMC2789551  PMID: 17412960
7.  Morphometrics within dog breeds are highly reproducible and dispute Rensch’s rule 
Using 27 body measurements, we have identified 13 breed-defining metrics for 109 of 159 domestic dog breeds, most of which are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). The data set included 1,155 dogs at least 1 year old (average 5.4 years), and for 53 breed populations, complete measurement data were collected from at least three males and three females. We demonstrate, first, that AKC breed standards are rigorously adhered to for most domestic breeds with little variation observed within breeds. Second, Rensch’s rule, which describes a scaling among taxa such that sexual dimorphism is greater among larger species if males are the larger sex, with less pronounced differences in male versus female body size in smaller species, is not maintained in domestic dog breeds because the proportional size difference between males and females of small and large breeds is essentially the same. Finally, principal components (PCs) analysis describes both the overall body size (PC1) and the shape (length versus width) of the skeleton (PC2). That the integrity of the data set is sufficiently rich to discern PCs has strong implications for mapping studies, suggesting that individual measurements may not be needed for genetic studies of morphologic traits, particularly in the case of breed-defining traits that are typically under strong selection. Rather, phenotypes derived from data sets such as these, collected at a fraction of the effort and cost, may be used to direct whole-genome association studies aimed at understanding the genetic basis of fixed morphologic phenotypes defining distinct dog breeds.
PMCID: PMC2748280  PMID: 19020935

Results 1-7 (7)