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Multiple introductions and human-aided dispersal of the UK’s most widespread non-native amphibian

Ball, Sarah E; Gupta, Mollie; Aldridge, Sarah J; Allen, Bryony E; Faulkner, Sally C; Oteo-García, Gonzalo; Griffiths, Richard A; ... Garner, Trenton WJ; + view all (2023) Multiple introductions and human-aided dispersal of the UK’s most widespread non-native amphibian. Frontiers in Amphibian and Reptile Science , 1 , Article 1215723. 10.3389/famrs.2023.1215723. Green open access

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Abstract

The alpine newt Ichthyosaura alpestris has achieved a widespread distribution as a non-native (alien) species in Britain since its initial introduction over a century ago, but the patterns of its release and subsequent dispersal have never yet been collectively analysed. We employed a multi-disciplinary combination of methods, using geographic profiling to estimate the likely number and locations of introductions, and mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms to investigate the likely geographic source of primary introductions, including the potential role of the pet trade. In parallel we used population genetic analysis and coalescence-based modelling to infer the demographics and directionality of dispersal from founding populations. Our results show that alpine newts have been released at multiple sites. We found a close resemblance between patterns of mtDNA haplotypes in the pet trade and those of established alpine newt populations, suggesting a relationship between trade, releases, and dispersal. Results from demographic modelling using Approximate Bayesian Computation are also consistent with multiple independent introductions with limited local dispersal, and additionally suggest that releases may occur from intermediate sources, such as captive populations. Our results support the hypothesis that deliberate human activity is largely responsible for both introductions of alpine newts into the UK and their wider dispersal post-introduction. The likely involvement of the international pet trade highlights the risk that ongoing releases of I. alpestris may expose native species to pathogens, whether pre-existing or novel.

Type: Article
Title: Multiple introductions and human-aided dispersal of the UK’s most widespread non-native amphibian
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/famrs.2023.1215723
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/famrs.2023.1215723
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 Ball, Gupta, Aldridge, Allen, Faulkner, Oteo-García, Griffiths, Hill, Morris, Stevens, Wilkinson and Garner. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: invasive alien species, ecological genetics, invasion routes, geoprofiling, dispersal, global amphibian trade
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10188856
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