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Genetic monitoring detects an overlooked cryptic species and reveals the diversity and distribution of three invasive Rattus congeners in South Africa

Genetic monitoring detects an overlooked cryptic species and reveals the diversity and distribution of three invasive Rattus congeners in South Africa

Bastos, Armanda D., Nair, Deenadayalan, Taylor, Peter J., Brettschneider, Helene, Kirsten, Frikkie, Mostert, Elmarie, von Maltitz, Emil, Lamb, Jennifer M., van Hooft, Pim, Belmain, Steven R., Contrafatto, Giancarlo, Downs, Sarah and Chimimba, Christian T. (2011) Genetic monitoring detects an overlooked cryptic species and reveals the diversity and distribution of three invasive Rattus congeners in South Africa. BMC Genetics, 12:26. ISSN 1471-2156 (doi:10.1186/1471-2156-12-26)

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Abstract

Background: South Africa's long and extensive trade activity has ensured ample opportunities for exotic species introduction. Whereas the rich biodiversity of endemic southern African fauna has been the focus of many studies, invasive vertebrates are generally overlooked despite potential impacts on biodiversity, health and agriculture. Genetic monitoring of commensal rodents in South Africa which uncovered the presence of Rattus tanezumi, a South-East Asian endemic not previously known to occur in Africa, provided the impetus for expanded studies on all invasive Rattus species present.

Results: To this end, intensified sampling at 28 South African localities and at one site in Swaziland, identified 149 Rattus specimens. Cytochrome b gene sequencing revealed the presence of two R. tanezumi, seven R. rattus and five R. norvegicus haplotypes in south Africa. Phylogenetic results were consistent with a single, recent R. tanezumi introduction and indicated that R. norvegicus and R. rattus probably became established following at least two and three independent introductions, respectively. Intra- and inter-specific diversity was highest in informal human settlements, with all three species occurring at a single metropolitan township site. Rattus norvegicus and R. rattus each occurred sympatrically with R. tanezumi at one and five sites, respectively. Karyotyping of selected R. rattus and R. tanezumi individuals identified diploid numbers consistent with those reported previously for these cryptic species. Ordination of bioclimatic variables and MaxEnt ecological niche modelling confirmed that the bioclimatic niche occupied by R. tanezumi in south Africa was distinct from that occupied in its naturalised range in south-east Asia suggesting that factors other than climate may influence the distribution of this species.

Conclusions: This study has highlighted the value of genetic typing for detecting cryptic invasive species, providing historical insights into introductions and for directing future sampling. The apparent ease with which a cryptic species can become established signals the need for broader implementation of genetic monitoring programmes. In addition to providing baseline data and potentially identifying high-risk introduction routes, the predictive power of ecological niche modelling is enhanced when species records are genetically verified.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] Published: 16 February 2011. [2] BMC Genetics is an online Open Access journal. [3] Citation: Bastos et al.: Genetic monitoring detects an overlooked cryptic species and reveals the diversity and distribution of three invasive Rattus congeners in South Africa. BMC Genetics 2011 12:26. [4] Copyright: © 2011 Bastos et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Definitive version to be found at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2156-12-26 [5] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Rattus, cryptic species, cytochrome b, phylogeny, haplotypes, karyotypes, ecological niche modelling
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 14:50
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/4524

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