First evidence of White-footed Deer Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) on mainland New Brunswick, Canada

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Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club


White-footed Deer Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the closely related, and more northerly ranging, Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) broadly overlap in distribution and are often difficult to distinguish from each other. Based on molecular genetic data (cytochrome b gene), we report two new distribution records for P. leucopus for New Brunswick, Canada, the first mainland localities for this species in the province. Previous sampling of Peromyscus in New Brunswick may have overlooked the presence of P. leucopus, possibly because the specimens collected were all assumed to be P. maniculatus. However, current detection in New Brunswick may be part of a broader recent northward range expansion documented to be underway in P. leucopus. Although our use of a single mitochondrial gene to identify P. leucopus does not eliminate the possibility that the New Brunswick specimens are of hybrid origin, our results support the presence of P. leuco-pus in New Brunswick and suggest more detailed analyses will be required to determine the nature of any genetic interaction between P. leucopus and P. maniculatus in the province. Recognition of morphologically cryptic Peromyscus in southern New Brunswick also emphasizes the need to incorporate comprehensive methods to ensure the correct identification of speci-mens of this genus in Maritime Canada. We also note the potential implications of this discovery with respect to the incidence of Lyme disease in New Brunswick.