Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Invasion genetics of nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Okayama, Japan, inferred from mitochondrial and microsatellite markers.

Abstract

Nutria (Myocastor coypus) is a large semi-aquatic rodent native to South America, introduced worldwide for fur farming in the early twentieth century. In Japan, 150 individuals were introduced from the USA in 1939, and their feral populations are currently causing serious problems to aquatic ecosystem and agriculture. Okayama Plain is the largest habitat of nutria in Japan, established by the escapees from breeding farms around the middle of the 1940s. Here, we examined genetic structure of Okayama population and inferred gene flow among populations, using mtDNA and ten microsatellite markers (MS), to estimate eradication units for the effectiveness of population control. For mtDNA, two haplotypes (A and B) were detected in cytochrome b region. Haplotype A was widely distributed in Okayama Plain, while haplotype B was mainly observed around Yoshii River. For MS, Okayama population showed high genetic diversity, comparable to USA and Argentine populations. Genetic differentiation was recognized among drainages with a significant isolation-by-distance pattern. Multivariate analyses and Bayesian clustering method suggested two genetic clusters and radial dispersal around the coast of the Kojima Bay, while these clusters did not necessarily concord with mtDNA haplotypes in distribution. Genetic heterogeneity tended to be higher in males than in females, and females exhibited a higher relatedness than males in Asahi River. These results suggest that nutria in Okayama Plain originated from farming sites downstream in Yoshii and Takahashi Rivers and have expanded its distribution along rivers via tributaries. Mitochondrial-nuclear discordance seems to be due to male-biased dispersal in nutria.