Urbanization can shape the evolution of the wild mouse in as little as 400 years.

Credit: MYN/Clay Bolt/Nature PL

Jason Munshi-South of Fordham University in New York and his colleagues analysed the genomes of 191 white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus; pictured) in 23 populations from both rural and urban areas in and around New York City. They conclude that the urban mice diverged from rural populations less than 400 years ago, when people began to urbanize New York. Genetically isolated mouse populations in large city parks, such as Central Park, split from other city populations around the time that the parks were first built.

Roads and buildings obstruct most mouse migrations, making urbanization a strong enough selective pressure to affect the evolutionary history of organisms, the authors say.

Biol. Lett. 12, 20150983 (2016)