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Data from: Sleeping with the ‘enemy’ - Hybridization of an endangered tree weta

Cite this dataset

van Heugten, Rachel A.; Hale, Roddy J.; Bowie, Mike H.; Hale, Marie L. (2018). Data from: Sleeping with the ‘enemy’ - Hybridization of an endangered tree weta [Dataset]. Dryad.


While hybridization is an important part of the evolutionary process, for rare species mating with more common species hybridization can increase the risks of extinction. By mating with heterospecifics rare species waste valuable reproductive resources and as a result population sizes may decline. If introgression occurs, the rare species can become genetically swamped by alleles from the more common species, rendering it effectively extinct. As a consequence of these risks, hybridization with the more common species Hemideina femorata (Canterbury tree weta) may lead to the extinction of the range restricted species H. ricta (Banks Peninsula tree weta) on Banks Peninsula. The current study uses spatial interpolation to model the distribution of each species and the potential sympatric zone to guide sampling efforts. Polymorphic microsatellite markers and mitochondrial sequence data were used to determine the extent of hybridization between H. ricta and H. femorata. The results confirm that hybridization is possible between these species. However, hybrids and introgression appear to be very rare, suggesting that reproductive isolating barriers are present but incomplete. The threat of extinction to H. ricta via hybridization with H. femorata is low but extreme loss of habitat may cause changes to population densities that could increase the risks of hybridization. Therefore, landowners should be encouraged to conserve native bush.

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New Zealand