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Microsatellites and mitochondrial evidence of multiple introductions of the invasive raccoon Procyon lotor in France
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are worldwide invaders, due to deliberate or accidental releases, and their impacts exceed hundred of billions of Euros in Europe only. In France, raccoons have currently established three separate, expanding populations. Identifying the current spatial genetic structure, dispersal events and phylogeography of these populations is needed to infer the invasion history and identify management units. We used wild and captive individuals sampled in France and Belgium to characterize the genetic diversity and current population genetic structure of French raccoon populations and identify potential genetic connectivity with the Belgium population using both mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite loci. Results confirm that French populations are the result of at least three independent introductions. While the three populations display low genetic diversity and sign of recent bottleneck, they are still expanding, suggesting that in addition to their ecological plasticity, the remaining genetic diversity is sufficient to successfully adapt to their new environment and allow a quick colonization. Particular attention must be given to the North-Eastern population, which shows genetic admixture with the Belgium population, as admixed individuals may exhibit hybrid vigor facilitating their expansion. The comparison of captive and wild individuals did not allow to identify a potential captive origin of the wild populations. The current regulation in France allowing captivity in zoos without enforcement to tighten the biosecurity of detention facilities might dampen any management measure as few introduced founders might be enough to create new populations.
Journal: Biological Invasions online