Invasive species are considered one of the main drivers of the sixth mass extinction. Conservation solutions depend on whether a species is also indigenous to the country it invades (i.e., beyond its native range). In the case of invasive cryptic species, genetic tools are required to establish their identity. We illustrate these issues with the human-mediated colonization of the Dutch coastal dunes by Hyla tree frogs. Although previously assumed to concern the indigenous common tree frog H. arborea, European tree frogs comprise a complex of allopatric cryptic species, meaning the taxonomic identity of introduced Dutch populations warrants investigation. We sequence mtDNA for 173 individuals from native and introduced populations across the Netherlands and compare our dataset with hundreds of Hyla haplotypes previously barcoded in the Western Palearctic. Two of the dune populations carry an mtDNA haplotype of the native species H. arborea that occurs naturally elsewhere in the Netherlands. In contrast, mtDNA assigned to the eastern tree frog H. orientalis was detected in all three other dune populations. In one of these populations mtDNA of the Italian tree frog H. intermedia was also found. Not one, but three species of tree frogs have thus been introduced to the Dutch coastal dunes, only one of them being native to the Netherlands. This situation causes a conservation conundrum as some introduced populations are lawfully protected but could pose a threat to local biodiversity. Regarding the ‘true’ exotic tree frog species, all conservation options should be considered.
For most if not all European herpetofauna, range-wide mtDNA phylogeographies have been published. This facilitates establishing the provenance of introduced populations. However, precision is contingent on the spatial genetic structure across the range of the taxon under study and, in particular, from where within that range the introduction was sourced. In the Netherlands, the common midwife toad, Alytes obstetricans, only naturally occurs in the extreme southeast and is on the decline there. Yet, introduced populations thrive elsewhere in the country. We use mtDNA analysis to try to determine the origin of two introduced populations along the Dutch coast, in the city of The Hague and the dune area Meijendel. We compiled a database of hundreds of individuals from throughout the distribution range and added over 130 individuals from both native and introduced populations from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. The mtDNA haplotypes found in the introduced populations are associated with postglacial expansion. The main haplotype predominates in the natural range in the Netherlands, but also occurs much more widely across western Europe, north of the Pyrenees. A closely related haplotype, newly identified from The Hague, was not found in the native Netherlands range, suggesting an origin from abroad. The combination of low phylogeographic resolution and low sampling density in the postglacially colonized part of the range hampers our ability to determine the provenance of the introduced A. obstetricans populations.