The complicated conservation problem of genetic pollution
How does invasive hybridization affect threatened native species?
- Ben Wielstra
- Invasive Alien Species Team (BuRO, NVWA)
- Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship
- RAVON (Reptile, Amphibian & Fish Conservation Netherlands), Nijmegen, the Netherlands
- Invasive Alien Species Team (BuRO, NVWA), the Netherlands
- Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, the Netherlands
- University of California, Los Angeles, USA
- University of Sheffield, UK
In a collaboration with the NGO RAVON (Reptile, Amphibian & Fish Conservation Netherlands) Ben Wielstra addresses the complicated conservation problem of hybridization between native and invasive species. Invasive species can threaten native biota by means of competition, predation and infection. A less-known risk is genetic pollution: the (partial) replacement of local genotypes via hybridization. A particular challenge of quantifying invasive hybridization is that the closely related species involved tend to be morphologically similar. As a consequence, conservation action would depend on large scale genotyping. Addressing genetic pollution is a notoriously contentious issue, with complications arising at the stage of obtaining and interpreting information. Wielstra works on Dutch case studies involving newts and snakes.
- van Riemsdijk, I., Struijk, R.P.J.H., Pel, E., Janssen, I.A.W., Wielstra, B. (2020). Hybridisation complicates the conservation of Natrix snakes in the Netherlands. Salamandra 56(1): 78-82.
- van Riemsdijk, I., van Nieuwenhuize, L., Martinez-Solano, I., Arntzen, J.W., Wielstra, B. (2018). Molecular data reveal the hybrid nature of an introduced population of banded newts (Ommatotriton) in Spain. Conservation Genetics 19(1): 249-254.
- Meilink, W.R.M., Arntzen, J.W., van Delft, J.J.C.W., Wielstra, B. (2015). Genetic pollution of a native threatened crested newt species through hybridization with an invasive congener in the Netherlands. Biological Conservation 184: 145-153.