Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The paradox of invasion: Reeves' muntjac deer invade the British Isles from a limited number of founding females.

Abstract

High levels of genetic diversity and high propagule pressure are favoured by conservation biologists as the basis for successful reintroductions and ensuring the persistence of populations. However, invasion ecologists recognize the 'paradox of invasion', as successful species introductions may often be characterized by limited numbers of individuals and associated genetic bottlenecks. In the present study, we used a combination of high-resolution nuclear and mitochondrial genetic markers to investigate the invasion history of Reeves' muntjac deer in the British Isles. This invasion has caused severe economic and ecological damage, with secondary spread currently a concern throughout Europe and potentially globally. Microsatellite analysis based on eight loci grouped all 176 introduced individuals studied from across the species' range in the UK into one genetic cluster, and seven mitochondrial D-loop haplotypes were recovered, two of which were present at very low frequency and were related to more common haplotypes. Our results indicate that the entire invasion can be traced to a single founding event involving a low number of females. These findings highlight the fact that even small releases of species may, if ignored, result in irreversible and costly invasion, regardless of initial genetic diversity or continual genetic influx.