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Historical range expansion and biological changes of Sus scrofa corresponding to domestication and feralization

Abstract

Globally, Sus scrofa is one of the most widely recognized species inhabiting earth alongside humans. Known by many names (wild boar, domestic swine, feral pig), S. scrofa is both an ecosystem engineer and an important agricultural species. Originating in Southeast Asia 5 million years ago, S. scrofa naturally expanded throughout Eurasia and into North Africa but now inhabits every continent, except Antarctica. The worldwide distribution of S. scrofa can be attributed largely to human-mediated transport occurring over the course of the past 500 years particularly during the European age of exploration. Biologically, the differences between wild, domestic, and feral populations can be traced to these historical events, which resulted in a marked increase in reproductive rates and growth rates among domestic populations that have generally been shown to regress when these populations become feral. Given the importance of this species ecologically and the great deal of available research describing it, this review summarizes existing literature on the global expansion and corresponding biological changes of S. scrofa within a historical and genetic context to allow for better understanding of the species.

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Acknowledgments

A special thanks is being extended to Nanea Babila, Dr. Steven Hess, Dr. Melissa Price, Dr. Daniel Rubinoff, Dr. Timothy Smyser, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback in the production of this manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa via the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Program (HAW01127H) and McIntyre Stennis Program (HAW01123M) awarded to Dr. Creighton Litton.

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Correspondence to Nathaniel H. Wehr.

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Communicated by: Cino Pertoldi

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Wehr, N.H. Historical range expansion and biological changes of Sus scrofa corresponding to domestication and feralization. Mamm Res 66, 1–12 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-020-00534-7

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Keywords

  • Boar
  • Hog
  • Invasive
  • Native
  • Pig
  • Swine