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Tracing a toad invasion: lack of mitochondrial DNA variation, haplotype origins, and potential distribution of introduced Duttaphrynus melanostictus in Madagascar

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The black-spined toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus, is widespread in South and South-East (SE) Asia, although recent molecular analyses have revealed that it represents a species complex (here called the D. melanostictus complex). Invasive populations of this toad have been detected in Madagascar since, at least, 2014. We here trace the origin of this introduction based on mitochondrial DNA sequences of 340 samples. All 102 specimens from Madagascar have identical sequences pointing to a single introduction event. Their haplotype corresponds to a lineage occurring in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and some locations of eastern Myanmar and northern Malaysia, here named the SE Asian lineage. Within this lineage, specimens from one location in Cambodia and three locations in Vietnam have the same haplotype as found in Madagascar. This includes Ho Chi Minh City, which has a major seaport and might have been the source for the introduction. Species distribution models suggest that the current range of the Madagascan invasive population is within the bioclimatic space occupied by the SE Asian lineage in its native range. The potential invasion zone in Madagascar is narrower than suggested by models from localities representing the full range of the D. melanostictus complex. Thus, an accurate taxonomy is essential for such inferences, but it remains uncertain if the toad might be able to spread beyond the potential suitable range because (1) knowledge on species-delimitation of the complex is insufficient, and (2) the native range in SE Asia might be influenced by historical biogeography or competition.

Affiliations: 1: 1Technische Universität Braunschweig, Zoological Institute, Mendelssohnstr. 4, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany ; 2: 2Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA ; 3: 3Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, Canada M5S 2C6 ; 4: 4Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY, London, UK ; 5: 5Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (CE3C), Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, Lisboa, Portugal ; 6: 6Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA ; 7: 7School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK ; 8: 8CIBIO Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, No 7, Vairão, 4485-661 Vila do Conde, Portugal ; 9: 9Association Mitsinjo, Lot 104 A Andasibe Gare, Andasibe (514), Madagascar ; 10: 10Lemur Conservation Foundation, P.O. Box 249, Myakka City, FL 34251, USA ; 11: 11Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, BP 442, Morafeno, Toamasina (501), Madagascar ; 12: 12Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM-SNSB), Münchhausenstr. 21, 81247 München, Germany ; 13: 13Department of Biology, La Sierra University, 4500 Riverwalk Parkway, Riverside, CA 92515-8247, USA ; 14: 14Department of Genome Microevolution and Cytoecology, Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Tikhoretsky Pr. 4, St. Petersburg 194064, Russia ; 15: 15School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Medical Biology Centre, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK ; 16: 16Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments at Centre ValBio, BP 33, Ranomafana, Madagascar ; 17: 17Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, 18 Hoang Quoc Viet Road, Hanoi, Vietnam ; 18: 18Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, UMR 7205 CNRS Institut de Systématique, Evolution et Biodiversité, 25 rue Cuvier, CP 30, 75005 Paris, France ; 19: 19Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, BP 906, Antananarivo 101, Antananarivo, Madagascar ; 20: 20Department of Environmental Science Planning and Management, and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA ; 21: 21Cologne Zoo, Riehler Straße 173, 50735 Köln, Germany ; 22: 22Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Via G. Giolitti, 36, I-10123, Torino, Italy

*Corresponding author; e-mail:
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