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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 17, 2015

Molecular evidence supports recent anthropogenic introduction of the Algerian hedgehog Atelerix algirus in Spain, Balearic and Canary islands from North Africa

  • Mourad Khaldi , Alexis Ribas , Ghania Barech , Jean-Pierre Hugot , Meryam Benyettou , Lila Albane , Antoni Arrizabalaga and Violaine Nicolas EMAIL logo
From the journal Mammalia


The Algerian hedgehog, Atelerix algirus, is recorded from North Africa, the Balearic, Canary and Maltese islands, and into parts of the Mediterranean coastal regions of Spain. The lack of an archeozoological record in Europe, Balearic, Maltese or Canary Islands has led several authors to postulate recent introductions by humans, but few studies actually investigated this hypothesis. We used both mitochondrial and nuclear genes to test it. To this aim, we widely sampled the Algerian hedgehog in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), continental Spain (Catalonia), and Balearic and Canary islands. Our mitochondrial and nuclear data are consistent and show low genetic diversity across the geographical range of the Algerian hedgehog. Our results suggest the recent colonisation of Spain, Balearic and Canary Islands by this species (Holocene), probably mediated by humans. Several subspecies, mainly based on pelage variations, have been described either from mainland or island populations, but our data do not show any genetic discontinuity, suggesting that subspecific recognition may be unwarranted.


This work was funded by the ANR projects PEX04-MOHMIE. Molecular analyses were supported by the Service de Systématique Moléculaire of the French National Museum of Natural History (UMS 2700, Paris, France) and the network “Bibliothèque du Vivant” funded by the CNRS, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, the INRA, and the CEA (Genoscope). In the field, we benefited from the help of A. Lalis, E. Stoetzel, A. Delapré, C. Denys, S. Cahill and F. Llimona. MK thanks particularly Prof. I. Doadrio and Dr. F. Alda from Spain for their help. The authors wish to thank all those who provided samples for this study in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Spain.


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Received: 2014-12-19
Accepted: 2015-6-5
Published Online: 2015-7-17
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

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