Modelling interspecific hybridization with genome exclusion to identify conservation actions: the case of native and invasive Pelophylax waterfrogs. Evol Appl 2015 Feb;8(2):199-210. 10.1111/eva.12245. PMC4319866. 17-02-2015
Interspecific hybridization occurs in nature but can also be caused by human actions. It often leads to infertile or fertile hybrids that exclude one parental genome during gametogenesis, escaping genetic recombination and introgression. The threat that genome-exclusion hybridization might represent on parental species is poorly understood, especially when invasive species are involved. Here, we show how to assess the effects of genome-exclusion hybridization and how to elaborate conservation actions by simulating scenarios using a model of nonintrogressive hybridization. We examine the case of the frog Pelophylax ridibundus, introduced in Western Europe, which can hybridize with the native Pelophylax lessonae and the pre-existing hybrid Pelophylax esculentus, maintained by hybridogenesis. If translocated from Southern Europe, P. ridibundus produces new sterile hybrids and we show that it mainly threatens P. esculentus. Translocation from Central Europe leads to new fertile hybrids, threatening all native waterfrogs. Local extinction is demographically mediated via wasted reproductive potential or via demographic flow through generations towards P. ridibundus. We reveal that enlarging the habitat size of the native P. lessonae relative to that of the invader is a promising conservation strategy, avoiding the difficulties of fighting the invader. We finally stress that nonintrogressive hybridization is to be considered in conservation programmes.
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