Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Nutria ( Myocastor coypus) in South Korea

Animals (Basel). 2019 Dec 17;9(12):1164. doi: 10.3390/ani9121164.


The nutria (Myocastor coypus) is an invasive alien species that have had major adverse effects on biodiversity and the agricultural economy in wetland habitats. Since 2014, the Ministry of Environment in South Korea has been carrying out the Nutria Eradication Project, and we investigated nutria distribution and genetic diversity of nutria populations in South Korea. We estimated that 99.2% of nutria habitats are in the mid-lower Nakdong River regions. To further analyze the genetic diversity in eight major nutria populations, we performed a genetic analysis using microsatellite markers. Genetic diversity levels of the eight nutria populations in South Korea were relatively lower than those in other countries. The probability of migration direction among nutria populations was predicted from genetic distance analysis. Genetic structure analysis showed little difference among the nutria populations in South Korea. These results suggest that nutrias in South Korea originated from a single population. Our results provide important data for establishing management strategies for the successful eradication of nutria populations in South Korea, as well as in other countries with alien invasive species.

Keywords: Myocastor coypus; genetic diversity; invasive species; nutria; population structure.