Population genomics of the Anthropocene: urbanization is negatively associated with genome-wide variation in white-footed mouse populations

Evol Appl. 2016 Feb 11;9(4):546-64. doi: 10.1111/eva.12357. eCollection 2016 Apr.


Urbanization results in pervasive habitat fragmentation and reduces standing genetic variation through bottlenecks and drift. Loss of genomewide variation may ultimately reduce the evolutionary potential of animal populations experiencing rapidly changing conditions. In this study, we examined genomewide variation among 23 white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) populations sampled along an urbanization gradient in the New York City metropolitan area. Genomewide variation was estimated as a proxy for evolutionary potential using more than 10 000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers generated by ddRAD-Seq. We found that genomewide variation is inversely related to urbanization as measured by percent impervious surface cover, and to a lesser extent, human population density. We also report that urbanization results in enhanced genomewide differentiation between populations in cities. There was no pattern of isolation by distance among these populations, but an isolation by resistance model based on impervious surface significantly explained patterns of genetic differentiation. Isolation by environment modeling also indicated that urban populations deviate much more strongly from global allele frequencies than suburban or rural populations. This study is the first to examine loss of genomewide SNP variation along an urban-to-rural gradient and quantify urbanization as a driver of population genomic patterns.

Keywords: Peromyscus; ddRADSeq; landscape genetics; population genomics; rapid evolution; single nucleotide polymorphism; urbanization.