The mouflon population of Cyprus (Ovis orientalis ophion) comprises historically preserved feral descendants of sheep domesticated during the Neolithic. We determined genetic identity of this taxon in order to elucidate its systematic placement and enforce its protection. We used 12 loci of microsatellite DNA to infer genetic relationships between the Cypriot mouflon and either long-time isolated (Corsica, Sardinia) or recently introduced (central Italy) European mouflons (O. o. musimon). We also sequenced the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Cytochrome-b gene to infer the origin of the Cypriot mouflon including many National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) entries of European and Near Eastern conspecifics. Microsatellites disclosed net divergence between Western Mediterranean and Cypriot mouflon. The latter was included in the highly heterogeneous Near Eastern O. orientalis mtDNA group, Iran representing the most credited region as the source for its ancient introduction to Cyprus. Both international and national legislation protect the mouflon of Cyprus as a wild taxon (O. o. ophion). However, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and NCBI include the Cypriot mouflon as subspecies of its respective domestic species, the sheep (O. aries). Unfortunately, people charged with crime against protected mouflon may benefit from such taxonomic inconsistency between legislation and databases, as the latter can frustrate molecular DNA forensic outcomes. Until a definitive light can be shed on Near Eastern O. orientalis systematics, we suggest that the Cypriot mouflon should be unvaryingly referred to as O. o. ophion in order not to impair conservation in the country where it resides.

Molecular DNA identity of the mouflon of Cyprus (Ovis orientalis ophion, Bovidae): Near Eastern origin and divergence from Western Mediterranean conspecific populations

BARBANERA, FILIPPO
2015

Abstract

The mouflon population of Cyprus (Ovis orientalis ophion) comprises historically preserved feral descendants of sheep domesticated during the Neolithic. We determined genetic identity of this taxon in order to elucidate its systematic placement and enforce its protection. We used 12 loci of microsatellite DNA to infer genetic relationships between the Cypriot mouflon and either long-time isolated (Corsica, Sardinia) or recently introduced (central Italy) European mouflons (O. o. musimon). We also sequenced the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Cytochrome-b gene to infer the origin of the Cypriot mouflon including many National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) entries of European and Near Eastern conspecifics. Microsatellites disclosed net divergence between Western Mediterranean and Cypriot mouflon. The latter was included in the highly heterogeneous Near Eastern O. orientalis mtDNA group, Iran representing the most credited region as the source for its ancient introduction to Cyprus. Both international and national legislation protect the mouflon of Cyprus as a wild taxon (O. o. ophion). However, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and NCBI include the Cypriot mouflon as subspecies of its respective domestic species, the sheep (O. aries). Unfortunately, people charged with crime against protected mouflon may benefit from such taxonomic inconsistency between legislation and databases, as the latter can frustrate molecular DNA forensic outcomes. Until a definitive light can be shed on Near Eastern O. orientalis systematics, we suggest that the Cypriot mouflon should be unvaryingly referred to as O. o. ophion in order not to impair conservation in the country where it resides.
Guerrini, Monica; Giovanni, Forcina; Panicos, Panayides; Rita, Lorenzini; Mathieu, Garel; Petros, Anayiotos; Nikolaos, Kassinis; Barbanera, Filippo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/723664
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