The desire for variety: Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus) populations introduced to the United States via the pet trade are derived from multiple native-range sources

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Tests of invasion success often require comparisons between introduced and native populations, but determining the native-range sources for introduced populations can be difficult. Molecular markers can help clarify the geographic extent of native-range sources, helping to identify which populations are appropriate for comparative studies. The Italian Wall Lizard (Podarcis siculus) was introduced multiple times to the United States with extant populations in California, Kansas, New Jersey, and New York. We used phylogeographic analysis of mtDNA sequences (cytb gene) for individuals sampled from these introduced populations and across the native range to identify the number of independent introductions and the location of the source populations. Haplotypes sampled from introduced populations were nested within three geographically distinct, well-supported clades that together encompassed a large portion of the native range. Combining these phylogeographic results with documentation of the introductions revealed putative sources: California individuals are derived from Sicily; Kansas and New York populations are from Tuscany near Florence; and the New Jersey population is likely from the Adriatic coastal region, but a more specific locality is not possible. The pet trade dominates the invasion pathway for P. siculus introductions to the US. The genetically and geographically diverse sampling of its native range may be driven by the desire for phenotypic variety in the pet trade, a hypothesis that needs future testing. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Publication Title

Biological Invasions