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Assessment of nonselective elimination effects in rodent communities by methods of geometric morphometrics

Vasil’ev, A. G., Bol’shakov, V. N., Vasil’eva, I. A., Evdokimov, N. G., Sineva, N. V.
Russian journal of ecology 2016 v.47 no.4 pp. 383-391
community structure, epigenetics, fever, geometry, models, morphometry, spring, sympatry, taiga, voles
Methods of geometric morphometrics and population phenogenetics have been used to evaluate morphogenetic rearrangements in two sympatric species of Myodes voles (M. glareolus Schreb. 1780 and M. rutilus Pall. 1779) from syntopic populations recovering after exposure to local “ecological vacuum” created as a result of rodent extermination in a natural focus of hemorrhagic fever in the southern taiga subzone of the Udmurt Republic. The model used in the study simulates the situation that arises upon nonselective elimination of rodent populations and communities in spring and their subsequent recovery. Analysis of variation in the size and shape of the mandible and in a complex of 30 nonmetric cranial characters has revealed similar (parallel) and species-specific morphogenetic and epigenetic changes occurring during the recovery of local rodent community. Species-specific differences in the pattern of change in the parameter characterizing within-group morphological disparity in the mandible shape (MNND) have been revealed between the dominant species (M. glareolus) and the subdominant species competing with it for territory (M. rutilus). Different reactions of close Myodes species in the course of filling the ecological vacuum are considered as a result of reduction in the level of competition for the subdominant species and a compensatory increase of morphological disparity in the dominant species under conditions of low density and incomplete composition of the community, in accordance with Chernov’s (2005) ecological compensation principle.