Data from: Distinguishing the victim from the threat: SNP‐based methods reveal the extent of introgressive hybridization between wildcats and domestic cats in Scotland and inform future in situ and ex situ management options for species restoration
Senn, Helen V. et al. (2018), Data from: Distinguishing the victim from the threat: SNP‐based methods reveal the extent of introgressive hybridization between wildcats and domestic cats in Scotland and inform future in situ and ex situ management options for species restoration, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.1s04tj3
The degree of introgressive hybridisation between the Scottish wildcat and domestic cat has long been suspected to be advanced. Here we use a 35-SNP-marker test, designed to assess hybridisation between wildcat and domestic cat populations in Scotland, to assess a database of 265 wild-living and captive cat samples, and test the assumptions of the test using 3097 SNP markers generated independently in a subset of the data using ddRAD. We discovered that despite increased genetic resolution provided by these methods, wild-living cats in Scotland show a complete genetic continuum or hybrid swarm structure when judged against reference data. The historical population of wildcats, although hybridised, clearly groups at one end of this continuum, as does the captive population of wildcats. The interpretation of pelage scores against nuclear genetic data continues to be problematic. This is probably because of a breakdown in linkage disequilibrium between wildcat pelage genes as the two populations have become increasingly mixed, meaning that pelage score or SNP score alone are poor diagnostic predictors of hybrid status. Until better tools become available, both should be used jointly, where possible, when making management decisions about individual cats. We recommend that the conservation community in Scotland must now define clearly what measures are to be used to diagnose a wildcat in the wild in Scotland, if future conservation action is to be effective.