Molecular detection of hybridization between sympatric kangaroo species in south-eastern Australia

L. E. Neaves, K. R. Zenger, D. W. Cooper, M. D B Eldridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introgressive hybridization has traditionally been regarded as rare in many vertebrate groups, including mammals. Despite a propensity to hybridize in captivity, introgression has rarely been reported between wild sympatric macropodid marsupials. Here we investigate sympatric populations of western (Macropus fuliginosus) and eastern (Macropus giganteus) grey kangaroos through 12 autosomal microsatellite loci and 626 bp of the hypervariable mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region. M. fuliginosus and M. giganteus within the region of sympatry corresponded, both genetically and morphologically, to their respective species elsewhere in their distributions. Of the 223 grey kangaroos examined, 7.6% displayed evidence of introgression, although no F1 hybrids were detected. In contrast to captive studies, there was no evidence for unidirectional hybridization in sympatric grey kangaroos. However, a higher portion of M. giganteus backcrosses existed within the sample compared with M. fuliginosus. Hybridization in grey kangaroos is reflective of occasional breakdowns in species boundaries, occurring throughout the region and potentially associated with variable conditions and dramatic reductions in densities. Such rare hybridization events allow populations to incorporate novel diversity while still retaining species integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-512
Number of pages11
JournalHeredity
Volume104
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

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