Skip to main content

Data from: An island endemic born out of hybridization between introduced lineages

Cite this dataset

Salter, Jessie; Brumfield, Robb; Faircloth, Brant (2023). Data from: An island endemic born out of hybridization between introduced lineages [Dataset]. Dryad.


Humans have profoundly impacted the distribution of plant and animal species over thousands of years. The most direct example of these effects is human-mediated movement of individuals, either through translocation of individuals within their range or the introduction of species to new habitats. While human involvement may be suspected in species with obvious range disjunctions, it can be difficult to detect natural versus human-mediated dispersal events for populations at the edge of a species’ range, and this uncertainty muddles how we understand the evolutionary history of populations and broad biogeographic patterns. Studies combining genetic data with archeological, linguistic, and historical evidence have confirmed prehistoric examples of human-mediated dispersal; however, it is unclear whether these methods can disentangle recent dispersal events, such as species translocated by European colonizers during the past 500 years. We use genomic DNA from historical specimens and historical records to evaluate three hypotheses regarding the timing and origin of Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) in Cuba, whose status as an endemic or introduced population has long been debated. We discovered that bobwhites from southern Mexico arrived in Cuba between the 12th and 16th centuries, followed by the subsequent introduction of bobwhites from the southeastern USA to Cuba between the 18th and 20th centuries. These dates suggest the introduction of bobwhites to Cuba was human-mediated and concomitant with Spanish colonial shipping routes between Veracruz, Mexico and Havana, Cuba during this period. Our results identify endemic Cuban bobwhites as a genetically distinct population born of hybridization between divergent introduced lineages.


We used a target capture approach appropriate for historical specimens (RADcap) to collect thousands of restriction-site associated (RAD) loci from 109 bobwhite specimens sampled during the 1850s to the 1960s throughout mainland Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, and source populations in the USA and Mexico. Using phylogenetic, population genetic, and demographic analyses in concert with historical records, we evaluated the three hypotheses that have been proposed to explain the origin of Cuban bobwhites.


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1655624

National Science Foundation, Award: DBI-2109361