, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 1-24

Genetic relationships among some new cat populations sampled in Europe: A spatial autocorrelation analysis

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The allelic frequencies of nine Mendelizing genetic characteristics that control coat colour, tabby and length and some skeletal abnormalities have been studied in four feral domestic cat populations, two in the north of Catalonia (Girona and Roses & L’Estartit, northeastern Spain) and two Adriatic Italian populations (Rimini and Venice). Using different genetic and multivariate analyses (Nei’s and Cavalli-Sforza and Edwards’s genetic distances, phenograms and cladograms using different algorithms, strict consensus trees, canonical population, principal coordinates and nonmetric multidimensional scaling analyses), I show the genetic relationships between these populations and other Western European cat populations previously studied. In the Western European area comprising Catalonia, Italy, France and Great Britain, I found significant spatial structure for thet b, l andW alleles and for the average correlogram for the seven alleles studied as a whole using a spatial autocorrelation analysis. The genetic distance matrices between these European cat populations also showed a significant correlation with the geographical distance between these populations using Mantel’s test. These analyses showed that in each of these countries, local cat populations have characteristic genetic profiles which were different to neighbouring populations in nearby countries. At least in this area of Western Europe, the geographical distances between cat populations (although the gene flow can be relatively high) is an important factor which can explain differences in allele frequencies between these populations.