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Volume 81, Issue 3 (May 2017)


Genetic variation in Heteromys nelsoni (Rodentia: Heteromyidae) reveals its possible natural extinction

Evelyn Rios
  • Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, Instituto Politécnico Nacional 195, La Paz 23096, Baja California Sur, Mexico
/ Consuelo Lorenzo
  • Corresponding author
  • El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Departamento de Conservación de la Biodiversidad, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, San Cristóbal de Las Casas 29290, Chiapas, Mexico
  • Email:
/ Sergio Ticul Álvarez-Castañeda
  • Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, Instituto Politécnico Nacional 195, La Paz 23096, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Published Online: 2016-05-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2015-0173


Heteromys nelsoni is restricted to cloud forests in the mountain range of the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico, and western Guatemala. It is considered an endemic species, under special protection, and endangered because its habitat has been modified by excessive logging and extensive cattle grazing. We evaluated the genetic variation of H. nelsoni and the relationship between individuals from two geographic areas surrounding Cerro Mozotal, Chiapas, using three mitochondrial genes [cytochrome b (Cyt b), cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI), and control region (D-Loop)]. Low genetic diversity (d<0.9, π<0.005) and average divergence (<0.6%) in mtDNA were observed among the specimens examined. The haplotypes are distributed throughout the areas sampled; therefore, no areas where individuals showed genetic identity, with exclusive haplotypes, were found. Heteromys nelsoni populations have undergone a very recent demographic contraction and the low genetic diversity observed indicates an unfavorable future for the species. Changes in the climatic conditions coupled with other anthropogenic pressures have likely reduced the optimal habitat area for the species. It is imperative to develop programs aiming to reduce the probable risk of extinction of this species.

Keywords: Chiapas; cloud forest; genetic diversity; Guatemala; Heteromyinae


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About the article

Received: 2015-11-23

Accepted: 2016-04-19

Published Online: 2016-05-31

Published in Print: 2017-05-01

Citation Information: Mammalia, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2015-0173. Export Citation

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