Evolutionary genetics of rats in urban environments

The Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, is one of the most important pest species globally and the main reservoir of leptospires causing human leptospirosis in the urban slums of tropical regions.  We are part of an international team studying leptospirosis in the favelas of Salvador (Brazil). We are using population genetic approaches to understand the patterns and levels of genetic differentiation among rat from different valleys separated by as few as 50-110 meters, evaluate the ecological and environmental drives of the observed patterns of genetic differentiation,  and evaluate the impact of control measures on rat densities and movements. The information from this work will then be used to develop empirically based control measures.