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Prague, Czech Republic

Pohlova L.,University of South Bohemia | Schepsky P.,University of Trier | Lehmann T.,Senckenberg Institute | Hochkirch A.,University of Trier | And 5 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2014

The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a very unique, but relatively widespread African mammal. Although some morphological variation has been observed between forest and savannah populations and among different African regions, they are all considered as a single species. However, no modern taxonomic revision is available. All captive aardvarks in Europe are believed to stem from wild born animals from Namibia, but recently several new wild-caught aardvarks from Tanzania have been integrated into the captive population. This raises the question, whether these specimens should be interbred with the existing captive population or whether there is a risk of outbreeding depression. We studied the genetic structure of the captive populations by sequencing two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and 16S rRNA) to assess the degree of genetic differentiation between the two source regions. Our data suggest that the aardvarks kept in European zoos belong to the same phylogenetic (mitochondrial) lineage as the differentiation in the two studied mitochondrial markers was extremely low. A more comprehensive analysis of a larger sample with well documented origin (covering the complete geographic range) and with more sensitive genetic markers is needed to infer any final conclusions concerning the aardvark's taxonomy and identification of suitable aardvark management units. Zoo Biol. 33:433-439, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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