Beam Brook revisited: a molecular study of a historically introduced non-native amphibian (Triturus carnifex) and its limited introgression into native UK Triturus cristatus populations

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Human mediated introductions of non-native species can pose a major threat to global biodiversity on several accounts i.e. through competition, the introduction of novel pathogens, and genetic pollution. Where hybridization occurs between two closely related species the F1 offspring are usually phenotypically discernible whereas F2 hybrid, backcrossed or admixed individuals become more difficult to separate. At this point the utilization of molecular methods is required in conservation efforts to differentiate and manage populations. This study demonstrated how a possible threat of hybridization from an introduced non-native (T. carnifex) with a protected native newt species (T. cristatus) could be investigated with molecular tools, and examined the current extent of its genetic introgression over an 80 years period. The results confirmed that hybridization had taken place at the site of introduction (and continues to do so), and that historically limited local dispersal of both non-natives and/or hybrids had occurred sometime in the past. However, the data suggests that although dispersal of hybrids into a local satellite site may still be occuring, hybridization with native species appears limited.


Publication of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica



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  • Site of Triturus carnifex introduction (Beam Brook) and surrounding satellite sites and proportion of T. cristatus (black), T. carnifex (white) and hybrid (grey) genomes at each site (see table S1 in online supplementary materials for site/sampling details). Microsatellite (STRUCTURE) data above site name, mtDNA (haplotype) data below. Inset shows location of UK sites. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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  • Maximum likelihood tree of mtDNA haplotypes from ‘pure’ Triturus cristatus (Nb: Newborough, UK; Pb: Peterborough, UK)/T. carnifex (SG: San Guisto, Italy) populations, the hybrid populations (Bb: Beam Brook, Sf: Sturtwood Farm, Cph: Capel Post House), and additional Triturus sequences from Genbank (Tcar: T. carnifex, Tmac: T. macedonicus, Tiva: T. ivanbureschi, Tpyg: T. pygmaeus, Tmar: T. marmoratus). Values along branches are % of bootstraps, bold notation are haplotypes (Tri) followed by species/site (T∗∗∗/∗∗) followed by individual if applicable (eg Bb01f). Shaded areas indicate haplotype/species groups: T. cristatus collected this study (top, green), T. carnifex collected this study (middle, blue), T. carnifex from Genbank database (bottom, red). This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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