J. L. Boone, Ph.D., Ecology
Boone, J. L. 1993. Systematics and conservation: cotton mice as an example. Southeastern Colloquium on Conservation of Mammals in South-central U.S., February 1993, Mountain View, Arkansas.

Systematics and conservation: cotton mice as an example

James L. Boone
Museum of Natural History, Institute of Ecology, and Savannah River Ecology Laboratory University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602


Setting up a conservation program always involves asking two initial questions. First, what organisms are out there, and second, are any of these organisms in need of conservation? Inaccurate answers to the first question can cause incorrect answers to the second question. At the UGA Museum of Natural History, we have been involved in a taxonomic revision of the seven cotton mice subspecies (Peromyscus gossypinus). Over 2,100 cotton mice have been collected for genetic analysis (protein electrophoresis at 40 loci) and 7,000 museum specimens have been measured (28 phenetic characters). Preliminary results show that the current subspecies boundaries are not reflected in the genetic or morphometric data and that current conservation programs are misdirected. The data also provide evidence for significant annual shifts in allele frequencies within populations, suggesting that conservation programs need to consider providing for the organism's ability to evolve in the short-term, as well as the long-term.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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