Conservation prioritisation through genomic reconstruction of demographic histories applied to two endangered suids in the Malay Archipelago

Anna Schleimer*, Alain C. Frantz, Lorraine Richart, Jörg Mehnert, Gono Semiadi, Johanna Rode-Margono, Michel Mittelbronn, Stuart Young, Frank Drygala, Wirdateti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Aim: The biodiversity of the Malay Archipelago is the product of the region's rich biogeographical history with periods of island connectivity and isolation during the Pleistocene glacial cycles. Here, the case of two endemic suid species, the Javan (Sus verrucosus) and Bawean (S. blouchi) warty pigs, was used to illustrate how biogeographic processes and recent anthropogenic pressures can shape demographic histories with significant implications for species conservation. Location: Malay Archipelago, with focus on Bawean and Java. Methods: We employed genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms from the Porcine SNP60 v2 BeadChip to assess interspecific genetic differentiation, to estimate divergence times and to perform demographic model selection. Results: In contrast to the hypothesis of recent divergence during the last glacial maximum, S. blouchi was found to have diverged from S. verrucosus at least 166 k years ago following a founder event. The contemporary S. blouchi population was characterised by a recent bottleneck that reduced the effective population size to less than 20. The genomic assessment supports the single species status of S. blouchi, as was previously proposed based on morphometrics. The demographic history of S. verrucosus showed evidence of secondary contact with the sympatric banded pig (S. scrofa vittatus) that colonised Java 70 k years ago. Main Conclusions: While the Javan and Bawean warty pigs have persisted throughout the Pleistocene climatic oscillations, contemporary pressures from human activities threaten their survival and immediate action should be taken to grant legal protection to both S. verrucosus and S. blouchi. This study highlighted the use of demographic history modelling using genomic data to identify evolutionary significant units and inform conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Feb 2023


  • Bawean
  • biogeography
  • founder effect
  • introgression
  • speciation
  • Sundaland
  • Sus blouchi
  • Sus verrucosus
  • vicariance
  • warty pig


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