Conservation Genetics

, 9:1589

Establishing the foundation for an applied molecular taxonomy of otters in Southeast Asia


    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California
  • Budsabong Kanchanasaka
    • Royal Forest DepartmentWildlife Research Division
  • Hiroshi Sasaki
    • Chikushi Jogakuen University Junior College
  • Hélène Jacques
    • Société Francaise pour L′Etude et al Protection des Mammiferes
  • Kristina D. Y. Louie
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California
  • Toanvong Hoai
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California
  • Nguyen Xuan Dang
    • Department of ZoologyInstitute of Ecology and Biological Resources
  • Eli Geffen
    • Department of ZoologyTel Aviv University
  • Arno Gutleb
    • Department of Production Animal Clinical Science, Norwegian School of Veterinary ScienceSection for Stationary Clinic
  • Sung-yong Han
    • Korean Otter Research Center
  • Thrine M. Heggberget
    • Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
  • Lionel LaFontaine
    • LutrAtlantica
  • Hang Lee
    • Conservation Genome Resource Bank for Korean Wildlife, College of Veterinary Medicine and BK21 Program for Veterinary ScienceSeoul National University
  • Roland Melisch
    • TRAFFIC International, c/o WWF Germany
  • Jordi Ruiz-Olmo
    • Servei de Protecció i Gestió de la FaunaDirecció general del Patrimoni Natural i del Medi Fisic
  • Margarida Santos-Reis
    • Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa, Centro de Biologia Ambiental/Departamento de Biologia AnimalUniversidade de Lisboa
  • Vadim E. Sidorovich
    • Vertebrate Predation Research Group, Institute of ZoologyNational Academy of Sciences of Belarus
  • Michael Stubbe
    • Institute of ZoologyMartin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg
  • Robert K. Wayne
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-007-9498-5

Cite this article as:
Koepfli, K., Kanchanasaka, B., Sasaki, H. et al. Conserv Genet (2008) 9: 1589. doi:10.1007/s10592-007-9498-5


Four species of otters (Mustelidae, Lutrinae) occur in Southeast Asia and are considered to be of conservation concern: Aonyx cinerea (Asian small-clawed otter), Lutra lutra (Eurasian otter), Lutra sumatrana (Hairy-nosed otter), and Lutrogale perspicillata (Smooth-coated otter). Among these, L. sumatrana is endemic to the region, yet little is known about its biology, and the precise distribution of all four species in Southeast Asia is not well known. Furthermore, the taxonomy and systematics of L. sumatrana and L. perspicillata have been the subject of controversy, which has implications for the legal protection and for conservation programs of these taxa. To resolve these controversies, we used a multigene data set comprised of segments from 13 nuclear and 5 mitochondrial loci (11,180 nucleotides) to evaluate the phylogenetic relationships of Asian Old World otters. Phylogenies were also estimated using two mitochondrial loci (1,832 nucleotides) obtained from two or more individuals of the four Southeast Asian species. The results from maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference showed that L. sumatrana and L. lutra are sister taxa, whereas L. perspicillata is sister to A. cinerea. Furthermore, the results from the two-mitochondrial gene analyses indicate that L. sumatrana is reciprocally monophyletic with respect to L. lutra, supporting the specific validity of the former taxon. Signs such as tracks and feces are often used in field surveys to provide information on the distribution and abundance of otters, but the accuracy of these methods may be compromised when several closely related species occur sympatrically. Therefore, the two-gene data set was used to develop a provisional set of diagnostic nucleotides that can be potentially used to identify the four species of Southeast Asian otters from noninvasively collected biological samples, such as feces.


OtterLutrinaeLutra sumatranaMolecular phylogenyMolecular taxonomySoutheast AsiaConservation genetics

Supplementary material

10592_2007_9498_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (188 kb)
(PDF 188 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008