MtDNA barcoding is regularly applied to determine the provenance of invasive species. Variation in spatial genetic structuring across a species’ range, typically high within glacial refugia and low in postglacially colonized areas, influences the precision of this approach. The palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) has been introduced north of its native range inside the Netherlands. We conduct mtDNA barcoding to try and retrace the origin of the introduced localities. A large increase in sample size, particularly focusing on temperate Europe, emphasizes that the palmate newt shows practically no genetic variation outside the Iberian Peninsula glacial refugium. While we find a haplotype previously only known from the Iberian Peninsula inside the native range in Belgium, the haplotype present in the introduced Dutch populations occurs widely throughout the native range north of the Iberian Peninsula. Although mtDNA barcoding can be a powerful tool in invasion biology, the palmate newt case exposes its limitations.

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Staff publications

Elfering, R., Mannix, S., Allain, Steve, Ambu, Johanna, Crochet, Pierre-André, van Doorn, Loïc, … Wielstra, B. (2024). Extreme genetic depletion upon postglacial colonization hampers determining the provenance of introduced palmate newt populations. Amphibia-Reptilia (Vol. 2024, pp. 1–8). doi:10.1163/15685381-bja10181