• 1 Department of Biology, Zoology-Anthropology Unit, Via A. Volta 4, 56126 Pisa, Italy
  • 2 Department of Biology, University of Baghdad, Al-Jadriya, 10071 Baghdad, Iraq
  • 3 TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Unit 3-2, 1st Floor Jalan SS23/11, Taman SEA, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
  • 4 Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, New Delhi 110003, India
  • 5 Department of Wildlife &Ecology, University of Veterinary &Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan
  • 6 Zoology Department, Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan, Pakistan
Sci Rep, 2017 01 27;7:41611.
PMID: 28128366 DOI: 10.1038/srep41611


We investigated the phylogeography of the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) to determine its spatial genetic structure for aiding an adaptive conservation management of the species. Fifty-eight modern and 11 archival (dated 1882-1970) otters sampled from Iraq to Malaysian Borneo were genotyped (mtDNA Cytochrome-b, 10 microsatellite DNA loci). Moreover, 16 Aonyx cinereus (Asian small-clawed otter) and seven Lutra lutra (Eurasian otter) were sequenced to increase information available for phylogenetic reconstructions. As reported in previous studies, we found that L. perspicillata, A. cinereus and A. capensis (African clawless otter) grouped in a clade sister to the genus Lutra, with L. perspicillata and A. cinereus being reciprocally monophyletic. Within L. perspicillata, we uncovered three Evolutionarily Significant Units and proved that L. p. maxwelli is not only endemic to Iraq but also the most recent subspecies. We suggest a revision of the distribution range limits of easternmost L. perspicillata subspecies. We show that smooth-coated otters in Singapore are L. perspicillata x A. cinereus hybrids with A. cinereus mtDNA, the first reported case of hybridization in the wild among otters. This result also provides evidence supporting the inclusion of L. perspicillata and A. cinereus in the genus Amblonyx, thus avoiding the paraphyly of the genus Aonyx.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.