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Phylogeography of Invasive Rats in New Zealand

March 2019

Publication: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Author(s): Russell JC, Robins JH & Fewster RM.

Two species of invasive rats (Rattus norvegicus and R. rattus) arrived in New Zealand with Europeans in the mid to late eighteenth and nineteenth century respectively. They rapidly spread across the main islands of New Zealand and its offshore islands, displacing the historically introduced R. exulans. Today both species are widespread although the distribution of the sub-dominant R. norvegicus is patchy.

In this paper, tissue samples were obtained from 425 R. rattus and 130 R. norvegicus across the New Zealand archipelago and neighboring islands and were sequenced in order to construct a modern phylogeography of the two species and to make inferences on historical invasion pathways and spread across the country.

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