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Data from: Phylogeographic past and invasive presence of Arion pest slugs in Europe

Cite this dataset

Zemanova, Miriam A.; Knop, Eva; Heckel, Gerald (2016). Data from: Phylogeographic past and invasive presence of Arion pest slugs in Europe [Dataset]. Dryad.


Arion vulgaris (syn. A. lusitanicus) is the most destructive pest slug in Europe. The species has been regarded a classic case of an ongoing biological invasion with negative economic and ecological impact in many European countries, but this status has recently been contested. In this study, we assessed mitochondrial and autosomal genetic diversity in populations of A. vulgaris across the entire distribution range in order to characterize its evolutionary history. Mitochondrial diversity in A. vulgaris was strongly reduced compared with the closely related and largely codistributed noninvasive species A. rufus and A. ater, indicating a very rapid spread of A. vulgaris through Europe. Autosomal diversity assessed in 632 individuals from 32 populations decreased towards eastern and northern Europe which is consistent with the reported expansion of the species towards these regions in the last decades. Demographic simulations supported very recent population founding events in most of the European range. The short periods between the first detection of A. vulgaris in different countries and only a very weak association of genetic structuring among populations with geographical distances suggest a human contribution in the ongoing expansion of the slug. We propose that this contribution may ultimately prevent the exact localization of the debated region of origin of A. vulgaris. However, the reclassification of A. vulgaris as noninvasive would be premature. Without counter measures, the Eastern and Northern European countries can expect to see this biological invasion continued in the future.

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