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Effects of captivity, diet and relocation on the gut bacterial communities of white-footed mice

Citation

Van Leeuwen, Pauline; Mastromonaco, Gabriela; Mykytczuk, Nadia; Schulte-Hostedde, Albrecht (2020), Effects of captivity, diet and relocation on the gut bacterial communities of white-footed mice, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wm37pvmh9

Abstract

Microbes can have important impacts on their host’s survival. Captive breeding programs for endangered species include periods of captivity that can ultimately have an impact on reintroduction success. No study to date has investigated the impacts of captive diet on the gut microbiota during the relocation process of generalist species. This study simulated a captive breeding program with white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to describe the variability in gut microbial community structure and composition during captivity and relocation in their natural habitat, and compared it to wild individuals. Mice born in captivity were fed two different diets, a control with dry standardized pellets, and a treatment with non-processed components that reflect a version of their wild diet that could be provided in captivity. The mice from the two groups were then relocated to their natural habitat. Relocated mice that had the treatment diet had more phylotypes in common with the wild-host microbiota than mice under the control diet or mice kept in captivity. These results have broad implications for our understanding of microbial community dynamics and the effects of captivity on reintroduced animals, including the potential impact on the survival of endangered species. This study demonstrates that ex situ conservation actions should consider a more holistic perspective of an animal’s biology including its microbes.