Canu, Antonio (2016) Biological and genetic aspects of wild x domestic hybridization in wild boar and wolf populations. Doctoral Thesis.
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Nowadays, hybridization is recognized as a powerful evolutionary force promoting speciation and shaping adaptation, but also as a serious threat to the conservation of biodiversity.
This thesis is focused on two cases of hybridization between wild and domestic conspecifics, whose effects are mostly unexplored.
In Sus scrofa, I sought to expand knowledge about hybridization between wild boar and domestic pig. I investigated the main sources of domestic genes introgression, and assessed hybridization at neutral markers and functional genes at both local and European scale. I also developed a set of new uniparental markers for studying male-specific gene flow, and studied the reproductive phenology of wild populations.
In Canis lupus, I investigated patterns of hybridization between wolf and domestic dog in an Italian mountain area, focusing on the assessment of introgression and the food habits of hybrids.
As regards wild boar, I detected introgression all over Europe, also highlighting the role of breeding stations in spreading domestic genes across wild populations. With respect to wolf, a new approach was used to provide complementary (genetic and phenotypic) data on specific individuals and to support hybrid identification. A trophic niche overlap between wolves and hybrids was also proved.
These studies can have relevant management implications, offering new elements of knowledge on different aspects of the hybridization in two worrisome species of the Italian fauna.
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