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Open Access Research article

House mouse colonization patterns on the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Archipelago suggest singular primary invasions and resilience against re-invasion

Emilie A Hardouin1, Jean-Louis Chapuis2, Mark I Stevens34, Jansen Bettine van Vuuren5, Petra Quillfeldt6, Rick J Scavetta1, Meike Teschke1 and Diethard Tautz1*

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology, August-Thienemann-Str. 2, 24306 Plön, Germany

2 National Museum of Natural History, UMR 7204, Conservation des espèces, restauration et suivi des populations, 61 rue Buffon, CP n°53, 75005 Paris, France

3 South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia

4 University of Adelaide, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia

5 Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa

6 Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Vogelwarte Radolfzell, Schlossallee 2, D-78315 Radolfzell, Germany

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:325  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-325

Published: 26 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Starting from Western Europe, the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) has spread across the globe in historic times. However, most oceanic islands were colonized by mice only within the past 300 years. This makes them an excellent model for studying the evolutionary processes during early stages of new colonization. We have focused here on the Kerguelen Archipelago, located within the sub-Antarctic area and compare the patterns with samples from other Southern Ocean islands.

Results

We have typed 18 autosomal and six Y-chromosomal microsatellite loci and obtained mitochondrial D-loop sequences for a total of 534 samples, mainly from the Kerguelen Archipelago, but also from the Falkland Islands, Marion Island, Amsterdam Island, Antipodes Island, Macquarie Island, Auckland Islands and one sample from South Georgia. We find that most of the mice on the Kerguelen Archipelago have the same mitochondrial haplotype and all share the same major Y-chromosomal haplotype. Two small islands (Cochons Island and Cimetière Island) within the archipelago show a different mitochondrial haplotype, are genetically distinct for autosomal loci, but share the major Y-chromosomal haplotype. In the mitochondrial D-loop sequences, we find several single step mutational derivatives of one of the major mitochondrial haplotypes, suggesting an unusually high mutation rate, or the occurrence of selective sweeps in mitochondria.

Conclusions

Although there was heavy ship traffic for over a hundred years to the Kerguelen Archipelago, it appears that the mice that have arrived first have colonized the main island (Grande Terre) and most of the associated small islands. The second invasion that we see in our data has occurred on islands that are detached from Grande Terre and were likely to have had no resident mice prior to their arrival. The genetic data suggest that the mice of both primary invasions originated from related source populations. Our data suggest that an area colonized by mice is refractory to further introgression, possibly due to fast adaptations of the resident mice to local conditions.