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Genetic evidence further elucidates the history and extent of badger introductions from Great Britain into Ireland

Citation

Allen, Adrian et al. (2020), Genetic evidence further elucidates the history and extent of badger introductions from Great Britain into Ireland, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4xgxd2555

Abstract

The colonization of Ireland by mammals, has been the subject of extensive study using genetic methods, and forms a central problem in understanding the phylo-geography of European mammals after the Last Glacial Maximum. Ireland exhibits a de-pauperate mammal fauna relative to Great Britain and continental Europe, and a range of natural and anthropogenic processes have given rise to its modern fauna. Previous Europe-wide surveys of the European badger (Meles meles) have found conflicting microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA evidence in Irish populations, suggesting Irish badgers have arisen from a combination of populations with close relationships in Great Britain and in Scandinavia, and admixture between recently introduced and longer established populations. The extent and history of contact between British and Irish badger populations, however, remains unclear.  We use comprehensive genetic data from Great Britain and Ireland to demonstrate that badgers in Ireland’s northeastern and southeastern counties are genetically similar to contemporary British populations.  Simulation analyses suggest this admixed population arose in Ireland 600-700 (CI 100-2600) years before present most likely through introduction of British badgers by people. These findings add to our knowledge of the complex colonization history of Ireland by mammals, and the central role of humans in facilitating it.

Funding

Natural Environment Research Council, Award: NE/M004546/1

Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs, NI