Preserving genetic integrity in a hybridising world: are European Wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris) in eastern France distinct from sympatric feral domestic cats?
- 451 Downloads
We investigate the genetic profile of putative European Wildcats in north-eastern France, possessing the wildcat phenotype, but sampled in an area where they are sympatric with free-roaming domestic cats and, thus, are exposed to potential hybridisation. From a sample of 209 cats, the programme STRUCTURE clearly identified two distinct genetic clusters that corresponded to European Wildcats and domestic cats. The cats from these two clusters were clearly differentiated from each other (F ST = 0.16). However, the genotypes of some individual cats were split between the two clusters, indicative of genetic admixture. Our analysis demonstrates that a genetically distinct population of cats that possess the European Wildcat phenotype persists in north-eastern France, but that there is a low, yet real, risk of hybridisation with sympatric domestic cats. These European Wildcats warrant conservation efforts to protect their genetic integrity.
KeywordsBayesian admixture analysis Conservation genetics European Wildcats Felis silvestris Hybridization Domestic cats
We thank Estelle Germain (CERFE), Luc Baudot, Olivier Hubert, Emmanuel Lienard and all the technicians for their help in the collection of cats and in the laboratory work. This study was supported by the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage and the CNRS.
- Barilani M, Sfougaris A, Giannakopoulos A, Mucci N, Tabarroni C, Randi E (2007) Detecting introgressive hybridisation in rock partridge populations (Alectoris graeca) in Greece through Bayesian admixture analyses of multilocus genotypes. Conserv Genet 8:343–354. doi: 10.1007/s10592-006-9174-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Belkhir K, Borsa P, Goudet J, Chikhi L, Bonhomme F (1996–2000) Genetix, logiciel sous WindowsTM pour la génétique des populations. Université de Montpellier II, Montpellier, France. http://www.genetix.univ-montp2.fr/partition/partition.htm
- Daniels MJ, Balharry D, Hirst D, Kitchener AC, Aspinall RJ (1998) Morphological and pelage characteristics of wild living cats in Scotland: implications for defining the ‘wildcat’. J Zool (Lond) 244:231–247Google Scholar
- Eckert I (2003) DNA-Analysen zum genetischen Status der wildkatze (Felis silvestris) in Deutschland. PhD Thesis, Christian-Albrechts Universtät, Kiel, GermanyGoogle Scholar
- EUROP (1992) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21st May 1992 on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora. Appendix IV. Office for Official Publications of the European Union. http://europa.eu.int/. Accessed 20 March 2006
- Garnier S, Alibert P, Audiot P, Prieur B, Rasplus J-Y (2004) Isolation by distance and sharp discontinuities in gene frequencies: implications for the phylogeography of an alpine insect species Carabus solieri. Mol Ecol 13:1883–1897. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02212.x PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- IUCN (2008) 2008 IUCN red list of threatened species. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 20 Jan 2009
- Léger F, Stahl P, Ruette S, Wilhem JL (2008) La répartition du chat forestier en France: évolutions récentes. Faune Sauvage 280:24–39Google Scholar
- McOrist S, Kitchener AC (1994) Current threats to the European Wildcat, Felis silvestris, in Scotland. Ambio 23:243–245Google Scholar
- Nowell K (2008) Felis silvestris. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 20 Jan 2009
- Pierpaoli M, Birò ZS, Hermann M, Hupe K, Fernandes M, Ragni B, Szemethy L, Randi E (2003) Genetic distinction of wildcat (Felis silvestris) populations in Europe and hybridization with domestic cats in Hungary. Mol Ecol 12:2585–2598. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.01939.x PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Suminski P (1962) Les caractères de la forme pure du chat sauvage Felis silvestris Schreber. Archeol Sci 15:277–296Google Scholar
- R Development Core Team (2008) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL http://www.R-project.org
- UNEP-WCMC (2006) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Appendix II. http://www.cites.org. Accessed 21 March 2006
- Yamaguchi N, Driscoll CA, Kitchener AC, Ward JM, Macdonald DW (2004) Craniological differentiation between European wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris), African wildcats (F. s. lybica) and Asian wildcats (F. s. ornata): implications for their evolution and conservation. Biol J Linn Soc Lond 83:47–63. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2004.00372.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar