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Population genetics and genotyping as tools for planning rat management programmes

Abstract : Brown rats are a prolific synanthropic pest species, but attempts to control their populations have had limited success. Rat population dynamics, dispersal patterns, and resistance to rodenticides are important parameters to consider when planning a control programme. We used population genetics and genotyping to investigate how these parameters vary in contrasting landscapes, namely one urban and two rural municipalities from eastern France. A total of 355 wild brown rats from 5 to 6 sites per municipality were genotyped for 13 microsatellite loci and tested for mutations in the Vkorc1 gene which confers resistance to some rodenticides. Results revealed a strong genetic structure of the sampled rat populations at both regional (between municipalities) and local (between sites within municipalities) levels. A pattern of isolation by distance was detected in the urban habitat and in one of the rural municipalities. GeneClass and DAPC analyses identified 25 (7%) and 36 (10%) migrants, respectively. Migrations occurred mostly between sites within each municipality. We deduced that rat dispersal is driven by both natural small-scale movements of individuals and longer-distance (human-assisted) movements. Mutation Y139F on gene Vkorc1 was significantly more prevalent in rural (frequency 0.26-0.96) than in urban sites (0.00-0.11), likely due to differences in selection pressures. Indeed, pest control is irregular and uncoordinated in rural areas, whereas it is better structured and strategically organised in cities. We conclude that simultaneous pest control actions between nearby farms in rural habitats are highly recommended in order to increase rat control success while limiting the spread of resistance to rodenticides.
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Submitted on : Friday, August 23, 2019 - 8:57:23 AM
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Amélie Desvars-Larrive, Abdessalem Hammed, Ahmed Hodroge, Philippe Berny, Etienne Benoit, et al.. Population genetics and genotyping as tools for planning rat management programmes. Journal of Pest Science, Springer Verlag, 2019, 92 (2), pp.691-705. ⟨10.1007/s10340-018-1043-4⟩. ⟨hal-02269580⟩



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