Introgressive hybridization between the endangered native Bombina pachypus and the introduced B. variegata in a protected area in central Italy

Amphibians are experiencing an ascertained global decline, which causes include the introduction of alien species and the (anthropogenic) hybridization between native and exotic taxa. Detecting introductions and assessing their impact on populations of native species is crucial for amphibian conservation. We used mitochondrial and nuclear markers to reveal introgressive hybridization between the native Bombina pachypus and the exotic B. variegata (probably introduced from Albania) in a population from a protected area of central Italy. Almost all genotyped individuals were genetically admixed, showing a larger proportion of the allochthonous genome. To our knowledge, this study provides the first evidence of successful hybridization between the two species (we found both putative F1 and backcrosses), hence representing a new threat to the conservation of the endangered, Italian-endemic B. pachypus.