U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Piaggio AJ, Russell AL, Osorio IA, et al. Genetic demography at the leading edge of the distribution of a rabies virus vector . Ecol Evol. 2017;00:1–9. https://doi. org/10.1002/ece3.3087


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The common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, ranges from South America into northern Mexico in North America. This sanguivorous species of bat feeds primarily on medium to large-sized mammals and is known to rely on livestock as primary prey. Each year, there are hotspot areas of D. rotundus-specific rabies virus outbreaks that lead to the deaths of livestock and economic losses. Based on incidental captures in our study area, which is an area of high cattle mortality from D. rotundus transmitted rabies, it appears that D. rotundus are being caught regularly in areas and elevations where they previously were thought to be uncommon. Our goal was to investigate demographic processes and genetic diversity at the north eastern edge of the range of D. rotundus in Mexico. We generated control region sequences (441 bp) and 12-locus microsatellite genotypes for 602 individuals of D. rotundus. These data were analyzed using network analyses, Bayesian clustering approaches, and standard population genetic statistical analyses. Our results demonstrate panmixia across our sampling area with low genetic diversity, low population differentiation, loss of intermediate frequency alleles at microsatellite loci, and very low mtDNA haplotype diversity with all haplotypes being very closely related. Our study also revealed strong signals of population expansion. These results follow predictions from the leading-edge model of expanding populations and supports conclusions from another study that climate change may allow this species to find suitable habitat within the U.S. border.

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