rattler colonialism


Mercedes López, Pilar Foronda, Carlos Feliu, Mariano Hernández, ‘Genetic characterization of black rat (Rattus rattus) of the Canary Islands: origin and colonization’, Biological Invasions (May 2013).

In the Canary Islands two invasive rat species, Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus are present, but little is known about the origin and colonization. To this end, a molecular study was performed on R. rattus from the Archipelago and from the nearest continents. Partial cytochrome b gene sequencing offered very low levels of haplotype and nucleotide diversities, with only seven haplotypes identified. All of them belong to the European Lineage I, specifically to the “ship rat” cluster. The haplotype network showed a star-like topology. Haplotype distribution showed a genetic subdivision between eastern and central/western islands, suggesting a double colonization event. This hypothesis is congruent with historical human colonization and it is similar to that proposed for the rodent parasite Hymenolepis diminuta. In addition, a possible role of the Canary Islands as a faunal link with the European and American continents is discussed.

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