Date of this Version
Biol Invasions (2018) 20:1865–1880
Wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are the most widely distributed invasive wild ungulate in the United States, yet the factors that influence wild pig dispersal and colonization at the regional level are poorly understood. Our objective was to use a population genetic approach to describe patterns of dispersal and colonization among populations to gain a greater understanding of the invasion process contributing to the expansion of this species. We used 52 microsatellite loci to produce individual genotypes for 482 swine sampled at 39 locations between 2014 and 2016. Our data revealed the existence of genetically distinct subpopulations (FST = 0.1170, p\0.05). We found evidence of both fine-scale subdivision among the sampling locations, as well as evidence of long term genetic isolation. Several locations exhibited significant admixture (interbreeding) suggesting frequent mixing of individuals among locations; up to 14% of animals were immigrants from other populations. This pattern of admixture suggested successive rounds of human-assisted translocation and subsequent expansion across Florida. We also found evidence of genetically distinct populations that were isolated from nearby populations, suggesting recent introduction by humans. In addition, proximity to wild pig holding facilities was associated with higher migration rates and admixture, likely due to the escape or release of animals. Taken together, these results suggest that human-assisted movement plays a major role in the ecology and rapid population growth of wild pigs in Florida.