Hybridization versus conservation: are domestic cats threatening the genetic integrity of wildcats ( Felis silvestris silvestris ) in Iberian Peninsula?
Rita Oliveira, Raquel Godinho, Ettore Randi and Paulo C Alves Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2008 363, 2953-2961 doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0052
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Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2008) 363, 2953–2961 doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0052 Published online 16 June 2008
Hybridization versus conservation: are domestic cats threatening thegenetic integrity of wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) in Iberian Peninsula?
Rita Oliveira1,2,*, Raquel Godinho1, Ettore Randi3 and Paulo C. Alves1,2
´ CIBIO, Centro de Investigacao em Biodiversidade e Recursos Geneticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus ¸˜ ´rio Agra de Vairao, 4485-661 Vairao, Portugal ˜ ˜ 2 ˆ Departamento de Zoologia e Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade doPorto, 4099-002 Porto, Portugal 3 ` INFS, Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Via Ca Fornacette 9, 40064 Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy
Cross-breeding between wild and free-ranging domestic species is one of the main conservation problems for some threatened species. The situation of wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) in Europe is a good example of this critical phenomenon.Extensive hybridization was described in Hungary and Scotland, contrasting with occasional interbreeding in Italy and Germany. First analyses in Portugal revealed a clear genetic differentiation between wild and domestic cats; however, four hybrids were detected. Here, we extended the approach to Iberian Peninsula using multivariate and Bayesian analyses of multilocus genotypes for 44 Portuguesewildcats, 31 Spanish wildcats and 109 domestic cats. Globally, wild and domestic cats were signiﬁcantly differentiated (FSTZ0.20, p!0.001) and clustered into two discrete groups. Diverse clustering methods and assignment criteria identiﬁed an additional hybrid in Portugal, performing a total of ﬁve admixed individuals. The power of admixture analyses was assessed by simulating hybrid genotypes, whichrevealed that used microsatellites were able to detect 100, 91 and 85% of ﬁrst-generation hybrids, second-generation genotypes and backcrosses, respectively. These ﬁndings suggest that the true proportion of admixture can be higher than the value estimated in this study and that the improvement of genetic tools for hybrids detection is crucial for wildcat conservation. Keywords: Felis silvestris;hybridization; conservation genetics; microsatellites; Bayesian admixture analysis
1. INTRODUCTION The anthropogenically mediated dispersion of freeranging domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus), and their contact with natural populations of European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris), is considered one of the main threats for the survival of wildcat populations throughout all Europe. Theunknown effects of long-term sympatry between the two subspecies resulted in a global concern regarding the genetic and taxonomic status of the European wildcat (McOrist & Kitchener 1994; Daniels et al. 1998; Beaumont et al. 2001). The main problems that lead to artiﬁcial hybridization are related to habitat fragmentation and home-range changes, scarce availability of prey and the increasing...