Authors: ALGIMANTAS PAULAUSKAS, LORETA GRICIUVIENE, JANA RADZIJEVSKAJA, VACLOVAS GEDMINAS
Abstract: The raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides is a newly established alien species in Europe that spread rapidly into many European countries. They were introduced into Latvia, Estonia, and Belarus. Lithuania has been colonized by immigrants from neighboring countries (Belarus and Latvia) and since 1960 the species has occupied the whole country. The data on genetic diversity of the raccoon dog are rather limited, and not all parts of the Baltic region have been covered by previous analyses. In order to compare the level of genetic diversity and describe phylogeographic patterns throughout the raccoon dog distribution in the Palearctic region, a mitochondrial DNA control region was used, and the current 22 sequences were combined with the sequences from earlier data (n = 32). The analysis of a 540-bp fragment of the mtDNA control region in raccoon dogs inhabiting Lithuania revealed 9 haplotypes with 19 variable positions. The phylogenetic relationships among the haplotypes demonstrated the presence of two haplogroups. The patterns of molecular genetic variation in raccoon dogs from Lithuania obtained in the present study indicated higher genetic diversity of these animals as compared with those from West Europe, but lower genetic polymorphism as compared with raccoon dogs introduced to the European part of Russia.
Keywords: Invasive species, Nyctereutes procyonoides, mitochondrial DNA, control region, Baltic region
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