Turkish Journal of Zoology




Sicily (Italy) hosts a "relict", endemic population of the birds Alectoris graeca whitakeri commonly known as Sicilian Rock Partridge. In the last decades, due to the risk of restocking with other European and Asiatic species for hunting purpose, a study was carried out to investigate the potential risk of hybridisation. The mtDNA control-region and nuclear microsatellites were genotyped. Due to the importance of the species, samples were mainly characterized by feather and stool samples, and rarely by carcasses found in the environment, from year 2011 to 2012. A panel of 7 microsatellite loci was validated. Three multiplexes that allowed the simultaneous amplification of 3 microsatellites, and 2 for other two microsatellites, for a total of 7 markers, were utilized. Results showed the occurrence of hybridization both towards the Middle Eastern species, A. chukar and the Northern European species, A. rufa. A total of 18.5% of the samples were collected from the wild environment showed a high degree of hybridization. This fact, even if linked to a small number of samples, highlights a potential risk of hybridization in 4 Sicilian provinces and underlines the importance of further investigations to understand the entity of the problem.


Alectoris, genetic diversity, microsatellites, Sicily

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