DOI: 10.1101/484030Nov 30, 2018Paper

Who's who in the western Hermann's tortoise conservation: a STR toolkit and a reference database for wildlife forensic genetic analyses

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Roberto BielloDaniele Canestrelli


Illegal trade is threatening tortoise populations worldwide since decades. Nowadays, however, DNA typing and forensic genetic approaches allow to investigate geographic origin of confiscated animals and to relocate them into the wild, provided that suitable molecular tools and reference data are available. Here we assess the suitability of a small panel of microsatellite markers to investigate patterns of illegal translocations and to assist forensic genetic applications in the endangered Mediterranean land tortoise Testudo hermanni hermanni. We used the microsatellite panel to (i) increase the understanding of the population genetic structure in wild populations with new data from previously unsampled geographic areas (overall 461 wild individuals from 28 sampling sites); (ii) detect the presence of non-native individuals in wild populations; and (iii) identify the most likely geographic area of origin of 458 confiscated individuals hosted in Italian seizure and recovery centers. Our analysis initially identified six major genetic clusters corresponding to different geographic macro-areas along the Mediterranean range. Long-distance migrants among wild populations, due to translocations, were found and removed from the referen...Continue Reading

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