Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1101–1112 | Cite as

Human introductions create opportunities for intra-specific hybridization in an alien lizard

  • Sozos Michaelides
  • Geoffrey M. While
  • Celia Bell
  • Tobias Uller
Original Paper


Introduction of individuals from multiple sources could create opportunities for hybridization between previously isolated lineages, which may impact on the invasion process. Identifying the phylogeographic origin of introduced populations is therefore an important task to further test the causes and consequences of human-mediated translocations. The common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) shows a strong phylogeographic structure as a result of past isolation in glacial refugia, but it has also been commonly introduced outside of its native range. Here we analysed 655 base pairs (bp) of the cytochrome b sequence from 507 individuals from 23 introduced populations of P. muralis in England. We identified 12 unique haplotypes in the introduced populations that were nested into five native geographically distinct clades with genetic divergences ranging from 2.1 to 5.7 %. Multiple clade origin was common within populations, with a maximum of three different haplotype clades being represented within a single population. The genetic data are consistent with a scenario whereby initial establishment was a result of translocation of animals from their native range, whereas more recent establishment (i.e. since the mid-1980s) is the result of translocations of animals from previously established non-native populations. However, this requires further study. Overall, our results show that human introductions have created substantial opportunities for hybridization between genetically and phenotypically distinct lineages, which may have important consequences for the establishment success and long-term viability of introduced wall lizard populations.


Invasive species mtDNA Phylogeography Hybridization Admixture Lizard 



We are immensely grateful to Steve Langham (Surrey Amphibian and Reptile Group) for his efforts at mapping the occurrence of P. muralis in England and for generously providing detailed information about introduced populations. We are also grateful to all land owners for their permission to catch lizards on their property and to Natural England for permits (20091978; 20102163; 20112817). We are particularly indebted to Charles Snell, Martin Noble, Fred and Pat Howarth, Shona McDonough, the Lever family, Tony Pashley, Mark Anderson, Ian Boyd, Nick Squirrel, Tim Bernhard, Tanya French, and Anthony Mitchell for outstanding help with getting access to private gardens and lands, giving us pointers that helped establish the geographic limits of populations, and retrieve details on the introduction history. We are also grateful to Robert Heathcote and Ben Daly for assistance with catching lizards and to Alicia Davies for assistance in the molecular lab. We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was funded by the British Ecological Society, the National Geographic Society, and the Royal Society of London (all to TU), a FP7 Marie Curie Fellowship (GMW) and a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) scholarship (SM).

Supplementary material

10530_2012_353_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (157 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 156 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sozos Michaelides
    • 1
  • Geoffrey M. While
    • 1
  • Celia Bell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tobias Uller
    • 1
  1. 1.Edward Grey Institute, Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.National Oceanography Centre Southampton, School of Ocean and Earth ScienceUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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