Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the 13th WDM Conference (2009). (J. R. Boulanger, editor). 2009.


The western spread of raccoon rabies in Alabama has been slow and even appears to regress eastward periodically. While the disease has been present in the state for over 30 years, areas in northwest Alabama are devoid of raccoon rabies. This variation resulting in an enzootic area of raccoon rabies primarily in southeastern Alabama may be due to landscape features that hinder the movement of raccoons (i.e., gene flow) among different locations. We used 11 raccoon-specific microsatellite markers to obtain individual genotypes to examine gene flow among areas that were rabies free, enzootic with rabies, or had only sporadic reports of the disease. Samples from 70 individuals were collected from 5 sampling localities in 3 counties. The landscape feature data were collected from geographic information system (GIS) data. We inferred gene flow by estimating FST and by using Bayesian tests to identify genetic clusters. Estimates of pairwise FST indicated genetic differentiation and restricted gene flow between some sites, and an uneven distribution of genetic clusters was observed. Of the landscape features examined (i.e., land cover, elevation, slope, roads, and hydrology), only land cover had an association with genetic differentiation, suggesting this landscape variable may affect gene flow among raccoon populations and thus the spread of raccoon variant of rabies in Alabama.