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Assignment tests applied to relocate individuals of unknown origin in a threatened species, the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis)

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The pet trade is an important business around the world and one of the factors that might menace some wild populations. If wild animals are collected to maintain them as pets, this activity can produce several problems: i) an increase of population vulnerability, especially in the case of rare species; ii) the release of exotic pets in natural habitats, with the risk of competition with native species and the spreading of parasites and diseases, and iii) the maintenance of animals of unknown origin in Recovery Centres or zoos, which if too numerous are sacrificed or re-located to their supposed original regions. In this paper, we used seven microsatellite loci to analyze genetic diversity and genetic structure of the European pond turtle (Emys obicularis) covering the species range in the Iberian Peninsula. A Bayesian test revealed a genotypic differentiation between the regions sampled where most individuals (90%) were assigned to their sampling location with a probability higher than 95%. The likelihood values for individuals from Recovery Centres to came from one of our populations was higher than 90% in 22 out of 36 individuals. This work is a first step to relocate animals of unknown origin taking into account genetic similarities and contribute to reinforcement programs of endangered species.

Affiliations: 1: Grupo de Ecoloxía Evolutiva, Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo, E.U.E.T. Forestal, Campus Universitario, 36005 Pontevedra, Spain;, Email: guillermov@uvigo.es; 2: CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal; 3: Grupo de Ecoloxía Evolutiva, Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Universidade de Vigo, E.U.E.T. Forestal, Campus Universitario, 36005 Pontevedra, Spain; 4: CIBIO – Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal, Departamento de Zoologia e Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto. Praça Gomes Teixeira, 4099-002 Porto, Portugal

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853807782152589
2007-10-01
2016-12-07

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