Genetic evidence further elucidates the history and extent of badger introductions from Great Britain into Ireland

Adrian Allen, Jimena Guerrero, Andrew Byrne, John Lavery, Eleanor Presho, Emily Courcier, James O'Keeffe, Ursula Fogarty, Richard Delahay, Gavin Wilson, Chris Newman, Christina Buesching, Matthew Silk, Denise O'Meara, Robin Skuce, Roman Biek, Robbie A. McDonald

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The colonization of Ireland by mammals has been the subject of extensive study using genetic methods and forms a central problem in understanding the phylogeography of European mammals after the Last Glacial Maximum. Ireland exhibits a depauperate mammal fauna relative to Great Britain and continental Europe, and a range of natural and anthropogenic processes have given rise to its modern fauna. Previous Europe-wide surveys of the European badger (Meles meles) have found conflicting microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA evidence in Irish populations, suggesting Irish badgers have arisen from admixture between human imported British and Scandinavian animals. The extent and history of contact between British and Irish badger populations remains unclear. We use comprehensive genetic data from Great Britain and Ireland to demonstrate that badgers in Ireland's northeastern and southeastern counties are genetically similar to contemporary British populations. Simulation analyses suggest this admixed population arose in Ireland 600-700 (CI 100-2600) years before present most likely through introduction of British badgers by people. These findings add to our knowledge of the complex colonization history of Ireland by mammals and the central role of humans in facilitating it.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200288
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2020


  • Badgers
  • Britain
  • Colonization
  • Genetics
  • Ireland
  • Phylogeography


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