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Population genetics of the invasive wasp Vespula germanica in South Africa

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journal contribution
posted on 02.11.2021, 20:46 authored by J Eloff, R Veldtman, Mariana BulgarellaMariana Bulgarella, Philip LesterPhilip Lester
The German wasp (Vespula germanica) is a highly successful invader on a global scale. These wasps were first observed in the Western Cape region in South Africa in 1972, and they have the potential to expand their range and cause significant damage to the native biodiversity. Our study used nuclear (DNA microsatellites) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 42 wasp colonies to analyse the population genetics of V. germanica in their invaded South African range. We sequenced three mitochondrial genes; cytochrome c oxidase I, cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase II. We found six mtDNA haplotypes present in South Africa. Although only a single fertilized queen is sufficient for the establishment of a wasp nest, the probability of a single introduced queen to successfully establish a nest and a population is very small. If multiple queens were introduced at the same time, the probability for more than one haplotype being transferred to the new population increases. Therefore, the true number of queen introductions occurred in South Africa can be inferred to be between two and six. We examined nine microsatellite loci and found weak-to-no genetic sub-structuring, likely due to high dispersal rates. We concluded that German wasps in South Africa maintain a homogenous population with movement of individuals between localities.

History

Preferred citation

Eloff, J., Veldtman, R., Bulgarella, M. & Lester, P. J. (2020). Population genetics of the invasive wasp Vespula germanica in South Africa. Insectes Sociaux, 67(2), 229-238. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-020-00752-x

Journal title

Insectes Sociaux

Volume

67

Issue

2

Publication date

01/05/2020

Pagination

229-238

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication status

Published

Online publication date

05/02/2020

ISSN

0020-1812

eISSN

1420-9098

Language

en