The laboratory-born progeny from two geographically distant populations of northern grasshopper mice (Onychomys leucogaster) were challenged with Yersinia pestis to determine their relative susceptibilities to plague. One of the O. leucogaster populations was associated with a known epizootic focus of the disease and was found to be nearly 2,000 times more resistant to mortality than were members of another population from an area historically free of plague. The ecology and omnivorous behavior of O. leucogaster appears to promote strong selection for resistance to plague in areas where they are naturally exposed.
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Vol. 24 • No. 2