|SREL Reprint #0321|
Color Polymorphism in Peromyscus polionotus
Michael H. Smith, James L. Carmon, and J. B. Gentry
In addition to the normal
dark brown old-field mice, a pale brown phenotype occurs on the Savannah River
Plant in South Carolina. A linear
model can be used to describe the reflectance spectrum of the dorsal pelage of
the two color variants. The
reflectance spectrum of pale brown adults had a higher intercept and slope than
the darker adults. The paler mice
occurred in high frequency only on the lighter Lakeland Sand soils.
Pleiotrophic effects of
the autosomal pale brown gene were noted in reproductive performance in the
laboratory, trappable life span, and number of captures per unit time, but not
in the growth rate of the two variants. Under
field conditions, presence or absence of supplementary food also modifies the
expression of the phenotype. The
complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors and inadequate
knowledge about the environment of the two phenotypes makes their distribution
difficult to interpret. It is
apparent, however, that the simple hypothesis of predators selecting mice that
contrast with their background is not sufficient to explain all of the data.
SREL Reprint #0321
Smith, M.H., J.L. Carmon, and J.B. Gentry. 1972.
Pelage color polymorphism in Peromyscus polionotus. Journal
of Mammalogy 53:824-833.