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Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 17;8(1):880. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17042-5.

Genetic analyses favour an ancient and natural origin of elephants on Borneo.

Author information

1
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Rua da Quinta Grande, 6, P-2780-156, Oeiras, Portugal. reetasharma.igc@gmail.com.
2
Organisms and Environment Division, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, UK. goossensbr@cardiff.ac.uk.
3
Danau Girang Field Centre, c/o Sabah Wildlife Department, Wisma Muis, 88100, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. goossensbr@cardiff.ac.uk.
4
Sabah Wildlife Department, Wisma Muis, 88100, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. goossensbr@cardiff.ac.uk.
5
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, 33 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3BA, UK. goossensbr@cardiff.ac.uk.
6
Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100, Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.
7
Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester, Adrian Building, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, United Kingdom.
8
School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Life Sciences Building, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ, UK.
9
Organisms and Environment Division, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX, UK.
10
Danau Girang Field Centre, c/o Sabah Wildlife Department, Wisma Muis, 88100, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
11
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, 33 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3BA, UK.
12
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Rua da Quinta Grande, 6, P-2780-156, Oeiras, Portugal.
13
CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, ENFA, UMR 5174 EDB (Laboratoire Evolution & Diversité Biologique), 118 route de Narbonne, F-31062, Toulouse, France.
14
Université Paul Sabatier, UMR 5174 EDB, F-31062, Toulouse, France.

Abstract

The origin of the elephant on the island of Borneo remains elusive. Research has suggested two alternative hypotheses: the Bornean elephant stems either from a recent introduction in the 17th century or from an ancient colonization several hundreds of thousands years ago. Lack of elephant fossils has been interpreted as evidence for a very recent introduction, whereas mtDNA divergence from other Asian elephants has been argued to favor an ancient colonization. We investigated the demographic history of Bornean elephants using full-likelihood and approximate Bayesian computation analyses. Our results are at odds with both the recent and ancient colonization hypotheses, and favour a third intermediate scenario. We find that genetic data favour a scenario in which Bornean elephants experienced a bottleneck during the last glacial period, possibly as a consequence of the colonization of Borneo, and from which it has slowly recovered since. Altogether the data support a natural colonization of Bornean elephants at a time when large terrestrial mammals could colonise from the Sunda shelf when sea levels were much lower. Our results are important not only in understanding the unique history of the colonization of Borneo by elephants, but also for their long-term conservation.

PMID:
29343863
PMCID:
PMC5772424
DOI:
10.1038/s41598-017-17042-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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