Misperceived invasion: the Lusitanian slug (Arion lusitanicusauct. non-Mabille orArion vulgarisMoquin-Tandon 1855) is native to Central Europe

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The Lusitanian slug, presumed to be native to south-west Europe, was ranked among the 100 worst invading species in Central Europe. However, from the very beginning of its recognition in the presumed invasion area, there was little evidence that the species was actually anthropogenically introduced. We investigated the invasive status of the species by comparing specific predictions on the population genetic structure in the invasion area with the pattern actually found. In a DNA-taxonomy approach, the species could not be found in its presumed native range. Using statistical phylogeographic techniques on a mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear (ZF) marker and species distribution modelling, we could show that the species is with very high probability not an invasor, but native to Central Europe. The study underlines the value of statistical phylogeography in rigorously testing hypotheses on the dynamics of biological invasions.

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