Small spotted bodies with multiple specific mitochondrial DNAs: existence of diverse and differentiated tigrina lineages or species (Leopardus spp: Felidae, Mammalia) throughout Latin America

Manuel Ruiz-García, Myreya Pinedo-Castro, Joseph Mark Shostell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We analysed two sets of mitochondrial (mt) DNA data from tigrinas (traditionally, Leopardus tigrinus) we sampled in Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, northwestern and northeastern Argentina and southern Brazil. Additionally, the analysis included some GenBank sequences from southern, central and northeastern Brazil. The first mt set (mt ATP8+mt 16S rRNA with 41 tigrina) revealed the existence of seven different tigrina-like haplogroups. They could represent, at least, 4–6 different tigrina species following the Phylogenetic Species Concept (PSC). In the second mt set (mitogenomics with 18 tigrinas), we detected six different tigrina-like haplogroups. They could represent 4–5 different tigrina species–including a possible full new species, which has gone previously unnoticed to the world of science both morphologic and molecularly. Coat patterns of several of these different tigrinas support the molecular differences. We also detected intense hybridization in many Andean tigrina with margays (Leopardus wiedii) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) as well as hybridization of one Bolivian tigrina with Leopardus geoffroyi. Similar hybridization was found for many of the southern Brazilian tigrina (Leopardus guttulus). All of the temporal split estimates for these tigrina haplogroups, together with those of the Leopardus species recognized to date, began in the late Pliocene but mostly occurred during the Pleistocene. In agreement with the existence of multiple species within the traditional L. tigrinus species, we detected strong and significant spatial structure in the two mt data sets. There were clear circular clines. A major part of the analyses detected more genetic resemblance between the Central American + trans Andean Colombian and Ecuadorian tigrina (L. oncilla) with the most geographically distant tigrina from central and southern Brazil (L. guttulus; pure individuals not hybridized with L. geoffroyi). In comparison, the Andean tigrina taxa had intermediate geographical origins but were highly genetically differentiated both from the Central American + trans Andean Colombian-Ecuadorian tigrina and from the central and southern Brazilian tigrina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1014
Number of pages22
JournalMitochondrial DNA Part A: DNA Mapping, Sequencing, and Analysis
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Many thanks go to the Instituto von Humboldt (Villa de Leyva, Colombia; Janeth Mu?oz, Fernando Botero, Claudia Alejandra Medina, Andr?s Cuervo), to the Costa Rican, Bolivian, Peruvian and Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, to the Direcci?n General de Biodiversidad and CITES from Bolivia, PRODUCE, Direcci?n Nacional de Extracci?n and Procesamiento Pesquero and to the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA) from Per? for their role in facilitating the obtainment of the collection permits. Special thanks goes to the Colecci?n Boliviana de Fauna (Dr. Julieta Vargas) in La Paz (Bolivia) and to the Ministerio del Ambiente in Santo Domingo de Ts?chilas (Ecuador). Also, we thank to Luis Pacheco (Bolivia), Armando Castellanos (Ecuador) and Nicol?s Lichil?n (Colombia) who helped to the first author to sample some tigrina in Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina, respectively. We appreciate the collaboration to obtain photos of different tigrina morphotypes to Jos? Gonz?lez-Maya (Colombia), and Luis Pacheco (Bolivia).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Leopardus
  • Tigrina
  • hybridization
  • mitogenomics
  • spatial structure


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