Genetic population structure defines wild boar as an urban exploiter species in Barcelona, Spain

Carles Conejero Fuentes, Gregorio Mentaberre García, Jorge R. López Olvera, J. Hagemann, M. Stillfried, J. Fickel

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Urban wildlife ecology is gaining relevance as metropolitan areas grow throughout the world, reducing natural habitats and creating new ecological niches. However, knowledge is still scarce about the colonisation processes of such urban niches, the establishment of new communities, populations and/or species, and the related changes in behaviour and life histories of urban wildlife. Wild boar (Sus scrofa) has successfully colonised urban niches throughout Europe. The aim of this study is to unveil the processes driving the establishment and maintenance of an urban wild boar population by analysing its genetic structure. A set of 19 microsatellite loci was used to test whether urban wild boars in Barcelona, Spain, are an isolated population or if gene flow prevents genetic differentiation between rural and urban wild boars. This knowledge will contribute to the understanding of the effects of synurbisation and the associated management measures on the genetic change of large mammals in urban ecosystems. Despite the unidirectional gene flow from rural to urban areas, the urban wild boars in Barcelona form an island population genotypically differentiated from the surrounding rural ones. The comparison with previous genetic studies of urban wild boar populations suggests that forest patches act as suitable islands for wild boar genetic differentiation. Previous results and the genetic structure of the urban wild boar population in Barcelona classify wild boar as an urban exploiter species. These wild boar peri-urban island populations are responsible for conflict with humans and thus should be managed by reducing the attractiveness of urban areas. The management of peri-urban wild boar populations should aim at reducing migration into urban areas and preventing phenotypic changes (either genetic or plastic) causing habituation of wild boars to humans and urban environments.
Idioma originalEnglish
RevistaScience of the Total Environment
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 2022


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