Unexpected Gene-Flow in Urban Environments: The Example of the European Hedgehog
Department of Evolutionary Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Alfred-Kowalke-Straße 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany
Berlin Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), 14195 Berlin, Germany
Department of Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Freie Universität Berlin, Takustrasse 3, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Alfred-Kowalke-Straße 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany
Department of Ecological Dynamics, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Straße 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany
Institute for Biochemistry & Biology, University of Potsdam, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 November 2020 / Revised: 2 December 2020 / Accepted: 3 December 2020 / Published: 7 December 2020
An urban environment holds many barriers for mammals with limited mobility such as hedgehogs. These barriers appear often unsurmountable (e.g., rivers, highways, fences) and thus hinder contact between hedgehogs, leading to genetic isolation. In our study we tested whether these barriers affect the hedgehog population of urban Berlin, Germany. As Berlin has many of these barriers, we were expecting a strong genetic differentiation among hedgehog populations. However, when we looked at unrelated individuals, we did not see genetic differentiation among populations. The latter was only detected when we included related individuals too, a ‘family clan’ structure that is referred to as gamodemes. We conclude that the high percentage of greenery in Berlin provides sufficient habitat for hedgehogs to maintain connectivity across the city.