The paradox of invasion: Reeves’ muntjac deer invade the British Isles from a limited number of founding females

M. S. Freeman, G. E. Beatty, J. T. A. Dick, N. Reid, J. Provan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)
599 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

High levels of genetic diversity and high propagule pressure are favoured by conservation biologists as the basis for successful reintroductions and ensuring the persistence of populations. However, invasion ecologists recognize the ‘paradox of invasion’, as successful species introductions may often be characterized by limited numbers of individuals and associated genetic bottlenecks. In the present study, we used a combination of high-resolution nuclear and mitochondrial genetic markers to investigate the invasion history of Reeves' muntjac deer in the British Isles. This invasion has caused severe economic and ecological damage, with secondary spread currently a concern throughout Europe and potentially globally. Microsatellite analysis based on eight loci grouped all 176 introduced individuals studied from across the species' range in the UK into one genetic cluster, and seven mitochondrial D-loop haplotypes were recovered, two of which were present at very low frequency and were related to more common haplotypes. Our results indicate that the entire invasion can be traced to a single founding event involving a low number of females. These findings highlight the fact that even small releases of species may, if ignored, result in irreversible and costly invasion, regardless of initial genetic diversity or continual genetic influx.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-63
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Zoology
Volume298
Issue number1
Early online date11 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • invasive species
  • muntjac
  • Muntiacus reevesi
  • population genetics
  • propagule pressure
  • invasion history
  • genetic diversity
  • genetic markers

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