Navigation Links
City rats loyal to their 'hoods, scientists discover

In the rat race of life, one thing is certain: there's no place like home.

Now, a study published this week in the journal Molecular Ecology finds the same is as true for rats as for humans.

Although inner city rodents appear to roam freely, most form distinct neighborhoods where they spend the majority of their lives.

Like any major city, Baltimore, Md., has many lively neighborhoods--each with its own personality. But scientists from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health say humans aren't the only Baltimoreans loyal to their 'hoods.

Rats typically stay close to home, rarely venturing more than a city block away. In the face of danger, however, some rodents can travel as far as seven miles to repopulate abandoned areas.

An understanding of how rats in urban areas are connected provides information about which populations may spread disease, according to Sam Scheiner, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research through the joint NSF-National Institutes of Health Ecology of Infectious Diseases program.

Baltimore's port was a once major delivery point for grain, likely how Norway rats were first introduced to the city. Norway rats, also called wharf rats, sewer rats or brown rats, can weigh nearly two pounds and transmit a variety of diseases to humans.

Despite expensive eradication efforts, the number of rats in Baltimore has remained unchanged over the past 50 years, says scientist Greg Glass of Johns Hopkins, who co-authored the Molecular Ecology paper with other researchers from Johns Hopkins and the Yale University School of Medicine.

To understand why, researchers trapped nearly 300 rats from 11 residential areas of Baltimore and conducted genetic studies to see how the rats were related. The scientists found that East Baltimore rats are separated from their unrelated West-side counterparts by a large waterway known as Jones Falls.

Within these hemispheres, rat families form smaller communities of about 11 city blocks. Each community is further divided into neighborhoods that span little more than the length of an average alley. To a city rat, that alley is home sweet home.

The findings suggest that while rats rarely migrate, neighborhood eradication efforts may backfire by encouraging the rodents to repopulate other areas and further spread disease. When you smell a rat, the researchers say, the best solution may be to tackle the problem on a much larger scale--perhaps by targeting entire families at once.

Rat race won.


Contact: Cheryl Dybas
National Science Foundation

Related biology news :

1. Opposites attract -- how genetics influences humans to choose their mates
2. The importance of being helpful -- Cooperative cichlids boost their own reproductive success
3. Athletes with asthma need more help from their team trainers
4. Our brains make their own marijuana: Were all pot heads deep inside
5. Food security for leaf-cutting ants: Workers and their fungus garden reject endophyte invaders
6. Genes that make bacteria make up their minds
7. Children who are dissatisfied with their appearance often have problems with their peer group
8. Female mammals follow their noses to the right mates
9. Female birds jam their mates flirtatious songs
10. Caltech and UCSD researchers shed light on how proteins find their shapes
11. Why dont more animals change their sex?
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
City rats loyal to their 'hoods, scientists discover
(Date:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 RAM ... announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication based ... quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These new ... semiconductor material created by Ram Group and its ... entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram Group ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... MELBOURNE, Florida , April 17, 2017 ... security technology company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report ... Securities and Exchange Commission. ... Report on Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section ... well as on the SEC,s website at . ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Apr. 11, 2017 Research and Markets has ... report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR of ... Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth ... market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... The Blavatnik Family ... and six Finalists of the 2017 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. ... and administered by the New York Academy of Sciences to honor the excellence ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, ... ... today announces publication of a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that ... disposable, point-of-care diagnostic test capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 12, 2017 , ... AMRI, a global contract research, development ... patient outcomes and quality of life, will now be offering its impurity solutions ... new regulatory requirements for all new drug products, including the finalization of ICH ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Charlotte, N.C. (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 ... ... ARCS® Foundation President Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the ... Laboratories ( ASTER Labs ), Inc. has been selected for membership in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: