Insight into the genetic population structure of wild red foxes in poland reveals low risk of genetic introgression from escaped farm red foxes

Heliodor Wierzbicki*, Magdalena Zatoń-Dobrowolska, Anna Mucha, Magdalena Moska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this study we assessed the level of genetic introgression between red foxes bred on fur farms in Poland and the native wild population. We also evaluated the impact of a geographic barrier and isolation by distance on gene flow between two isolated subpopulations of the native red fox and their genetic differentiation. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA was collected from a total of 308 individuals (200 farm and 108 wild red foxes) to study non-native allele flow from farm into wild red fox populations. Genetic structure analyses performed using 24 autosomal microsatellites showed two genetic clusters as being the most probable number of distinct populations. No strong admixture signals between farm and wild red foxes were detected, and significant genetic differentiation was identified between the two groups. This was also apparent from the mtDNA analysis. None of the concatenated haplotypes detected in farm foxes was found in wild animals. The consequence of this was that the haplotype network displayed two genetically distinct groups: farm foxes were completely separated from native ones. Neither the River Vistula nor isolation by distance had a significant impact on gene flow between the separated wild red fox subpopulations. The results of our research indicate a low probability of genetic introgression between farm and native red foxes, and no threat to the genetic integrity of this species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number637
JournalGenes
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • admixture
  • genetic introgression
  • microsatellites
  • MtDNA
  • red fox

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