Browsing Center for Earth and Environmental Science Student Work by Subject "molecular verification"
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Field and Molecular Survey of Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels in Northern New YorkIn northern New York, there are 2 sympatric species of flying squirrel, the northern (Glaucomys sabrinus) and southern (Glaucomys volans). Recent research suggests that the boundaries between the northern and the southern flying squirrels have been shifting northward, in part due to climate change affecting resource availability. As a result, northern New York would now be the southern terminus for northern, and the northern terminus for the southern flying squirrels. The goal of our research is to develop a molecular survey of the two species that can be compared to morphological measurements made in the field to better confirm species in our area. As weather permits, we are establishing an arboreally mounted trapline and recovering scat, hair, and other tissue samples for DNA extraction, polymerization chain reaction (PCR), and restriction digests to determine species. The molecular assay has been optimized; however the harsh winter has limited our trapping success for tissue collection in the field. Determining frequency of capture will assist in predicting where the boundary of these species lies in Clinton County.
Species Verification of Peromyscus spp. through Salivary Amylase Gel ElectrophoresisOften field identification of sympatric organisms becomes difficult when species are morphologically and behaviorally similar. Additionally, regional traits unique to subspecies further confound typical field marking identification techniques (e.g., tail length: body length ratios, tail bi-coloration). The importance of this verification might bring to question historic range maps and biodiversity trends in earlier published research which relied heavily on field markings. This field and lab-based study was performed to help verify field identification of white-footed mice (<em>Peromyscus leucopus</em>) (Fig. 1a) and deer mouse (<em>Peromyscus maniculatus</em>)(Fig. 1b) using a salivary amylase gel electrophoresis assay. Saliva samples were extracted from captured <em>Peromyscus</em> spp. from four different locations in NY, PA, and MA. Mice captured in NY were identified in the field as both species. Interestingly, mice in New York surveys captured within mixed forest sites were found to be of both species, whereas those captured on the sandstone pavement barren site were all <em>P. leucopus</em>. Researchers in PA identified all mice in the field as <em>P. leucopus</em>; however, salivary amylase results suggest that these species are in fact sympatric. Contrastingly, at the MA site all mice were identified in the field as <em>P. leucopus</em>, and gel verification supported this finding. This research suggests the need for molecular verification in all biodiversity surveys where species identity is uncertain. Additionally, this technique has provided an interesting future research avenue which suggests that conditions on the Altona flat rock barren are more favorable for <em>P. leucopus</em>.
Survey of Small Mammals on the Altona Flat Rock and the Gadway Sandstone Pavement BarrenSympatric species that compete over similar resources should not be able to coexist without niche partitioning. White-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and deer mice (P. maniculatus) both share similar habitat and resources. Researchers have suggested that this coexistence is permitted as a result of physiological and/or behavioral differences among these two species. This study was conducted at two sandstone pavement barrens, selected for their global rarity as natural heritage sites, specifically the Altona Flat Rock in Chazy, and the Gadway sandstone pavement barren in Mooers, New York. Sixty Sherman live traps were monitored monthly, for four consecutive nights, over the course of the summer. P. leucopus and P. maniculatus are similar in pelage color and become difficult to distinguish morphologically, such that several metrics were collected. Additionally, saliva samples were drawn from each Peromyscus spp. in order to determine species using molecular verification via salivary amylase electrophoresus. There was a greater relative abundance of white-footed mice (P. leucopus) as compared to deer mice (P. maniculatus) on both the Altona Flat Rock and Gadway sandstone pavement barren. Red-backed voles, chipmunks, flying squirrel, red squirrel, meadow-jumping mice, and northern short-tailed shrews were also found at the Altona Flat Rock. Red-backed voles were not present on the Gadway sandstone pavement barren; however, northern short-tailed shrews, chipmunks, and red squirrels were common. The overall goal of our experiment was to determine the species composition of small mammals located on these unique sandstone pavement barrens. Additionally, our research served to determine whether sympatric populations of Peromyscus spp. were both present or if the sites were solely dominated by P. leucopus as was previously presumed.