Selective Differentiation During the Colonization and Establishment of a Newly Invasive Species

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Journal of Evolutionary Biology

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The potential for rapid evolution in invasive species makes them useful for studying adaptive responses of populations to novel environments. However, phenotypic divergence during invasion is not necessarily due to selection, but may be a product of neutral processes resulting from population bottlenecks during colonization and range expansion. We investigated phenotypic adaptation during the establishment and range expansion of the invasive bunchgrass, slender false brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum; Poaceae). Utilizing a novel approach, we made robust comparisons of functional traits using genetic similarity based on unique alleles to determine the genetic probability of contribution from native source regions and integrated these probabilities into our QST -FST comparisons for 12 physiological and anatomical traits associated with drought stress in the introduced range. Our results indicate phenotypic divergence greater than neutral expectations in five traits between native and invasive populations, indicating selectivedivergence occurred during invasive species establishment. The results indicate that the majority of divergence in B. sylvaticum occurred after introduction to the novel environment, but prior to invasive range expansion. This study provides evidence for adaptive genetic differentiation during the establishment of an invasive species, while also describing a robust method for the detection of selective processes after species introduction to a novel environment.


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© 2018 European Society For Evolutionary Biology. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2018 European Society For Evolutionary Biology

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