Population genetics of the invasive wasp, Vespula germanica, in South Africa

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The German wasp (Vespula germanica) is a highly successful invader on a global scale. These wasps were first observed in the Western Cape region in South Africa in 1972 and they have the potential to expand their range and cause significant damage to the native biodiversity. Our study used nuclear (microsatellites) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 42 wasp colonies to analyse the population genetics of V. germanica in their invaded South Africa range. We sequenced three mitochondrial genes; cytochrome c oxidase I, cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase II. We found six mtDNA haplotypes present in South Africa, suggesting either multiple introductions or one introduction with multiple queens. We examined nine microsatellite loci and found weak to no genetic sub-structuring, likely due to high dispersal rates. We concluded that German wasps in South Africa maintain a homogenous population, most likely via movement of individuals between localities. Due to the presence of multiple introductions in the region, it could mean that future introductions may be likely and therefore eradication would be ineffective as recolonization would occur. It is therefore recommended that further efforts be made to prevent additional introductions prior to eradication efforts.
Thesis (MScConsEcol)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.
Microsatellites (Genetics), Biological invasions, Vespula germanica, Mitochondrial DNA, UCTD