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A Morphologic and Genetic Study of the Island Fox, Urocyon littoralis

Robert K. Wayne, Sarah B. George, Dennis Gilbert, Paul W. Collins, Steven D. Kovach, Derek Girman and Niles Lehman
Evolution
Vol. 45, No. 8 (Dec., 1991), pp. 1849-1868
DOI: 10.2307/2409836
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409836
Page Count: 20
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Abstract

The Island Fox, Urocyon littoralis, is a dwarf form found on six of the Channel Islands located 30-98 km off the coast of southern California. The island populations differ in two variables that affect genetic variation: effective population size and duration of isolation. We estimate that the effective population size of foxes on the islands varies from approximately 150 to 1,000 individuals. Archeological and geological evidence suggests that foxes likely arrived on the three northern islands minimally 10,400-16,000 years ago and dispersed to the three southern islands 2,200-4,300 years ago. We use morphometrics, allozyme electrophoresis, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction-site analysis, and analysis of hypervariable minisatellite DNA to measure variability within and distances among island fox populations. The amount of within-population variation is lowest for the smallest island populations and highest for the mainland population. However, the larger populations are sometimes less variable, with respect to some genetic measures, than expected. No distinct trends of variability with founding time are observed. Genetic distances among the island populations, as estimated by the four techniques, are not well correlated. The apparent lack of correspondence among techniques may reflect the effects of mutation rate and colonization history on the values of each genetic measure.

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