Date of this Version
The Journal of Wildlife Management 82(4):821–832; 2018
Feral swine (Sus scrofa) have invaded most of the United States and continue to expand throughout North America. Given the ecological and economic threats posed by increasing feral swine abundance, it is imperative to develop an understanding of their patterns of natural range expansion and human-mediated introductions. Towards this goal, we used molecular markers to elucidate the genetic structure of feral swine populations throughout the United States and evaluated the association between historical introductions and contemporary patterns of genetic organization. We used STRUCTURE and discriminant analysis of principal components (DAPC) to delineate genetic clusters for 959 individuals genotyped at 88 single nucleotide polymorphism loci. We identified 10 and 12 genetic clusters for the 2 clustering approaches, respectively. We observed strong agreement in clusters across approaches, with both describing clusters having strong geographic association at regional levels reflecting past introduction and range expansion patterns. In addition, we evaluated patterns of isolation by distance to test for and estimate spatial scaling of population structure within western, central, and eastern regions of North America. We found contrasting spatial patterns of genetic relatedness among regions, suggesting differences in the invasion process, likely as a result of regional variation in landscape heterogeneity and the influence of human mediated introductions. Our results indicate that molecular analyses of population genetic structure can provide reliable insights into the invasion processes of feral swine, thus providing a useful basis for management focused on minimizing continued range expansion by this problematic species.