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      Evolutionary origins of invasive populations


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          What factors shape the evolution of invasive populations? Recent theoretical and empirical studies suggest that an evolutionary history of disturbance might be an important factor. This perspective presents hypotheses regarding the impact of disturbance on the evolution of invasive populations, based on a synthesis of the existing literature. Disturbance might select for life-history traits that are favorable for colonizing novel habitats, such as rapid population growth and persistence. Theoretical results suggest that disturbance in the form of fluctuating environments might select for organismal flexibility, or alternatively, the evolution of evolvability. Rapidly fluctuating environments might favor organismal flexibility, such as broad tolerance or plasticity. Alternatively, longer fluctuations or environmental stress might lead to the evolution of evolvability by acting on features of the mutation matrix. Once genetic variance is generated via mutations, temporally fluctuating selection across generations might promote the accumulation and maintenance of genetic variation. Deeper insights into how disturbance in native habitats affects evolutionary and physiological responses of populations would give us greater capacity to predict the populations that are most likely to tolerate or adapt to novel environments during habitat invasions. Moreover, we would gain fundamental insights into the evolutionary origins of invasive populations.

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          Evolutionary genetics of invasive species

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            Phenotypic diversity, population growth, and information in fluctuating environments.

            Organisms in fluctuating environments must constantly adapt their behavior to survive. In clonal populations, this may be achieved through sensing followed by response or through the generation of diversity by stochastic phenotype switching. Here we show that stochastic switching can be favored over sensing when the environment changes infrequently. The optimal switching rates then mimic the statistics of environmental changes. We derive a relation between the long-term growth rate of the organism and the information available about its fluctuating environment.
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              Genetic variation increases during biological invasion by a Cuban lizard.

              A genetic paradox exists in invasion biology: how do introduced populations, whose genetic variation has probably been depleted by population bottlenecks, persist and adapt to new conditions? Lessons from conservation genetics show that reduced genetic variation due to genetic drift and founder effects limits the ability of a population to adapt, and small population size increases the risk of extinction. Nonetheless, many introduced species experiencing these same conditions during initial introductions persist, expand their ranges, evolve rapidly and become invasive. To address this issue, we studied the brown anole, a worldwide invasive lizard. Genetic analyses indicate that at least eight introductions have occurred in Florida from across this lizard's native range, blending genetic variation from different geographic source populations and producing populations that contain substantially more, not less, genetic variation than native populations. Moreover, recently introduced brown anole populations around the world originate from Florida, and some have maintained these elevated levels of genetic variation. Here we show that one key to invasion success may be the occurrence of multiple introductions that transform among-population variation in native ranges to within-population variation in introduced areas. Furthermore, these genetically variable populations may be particularly potent sources for introductions elsewhere. The growing problem of invasive species introductions brings considerable economic and biological costs. If these costs are to be mitigated, a greater understanding of the causes, progression and consequences of biological invasions is needed.

                Author and article information

                Evol Appl
                Evol Appl
                Evolutionary Applications
                Blackwell Publishing Ltd (Oxford, UK )
                August 2008
                28 June 2008
                : 1
                : 3
                : 427-448
                [1 ]simpleCenter of Rapid Evolution (CORE), Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin Madison, WI, USA
                Author notes
                Carol Eunmi Lee, Center of Rapid Evolution ( CORE), Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Tel.: +1 (608) 262-2675; e-mail: carollee@ 123456wisc.edu
                © 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
                : 16 November 2007
                : 16 May 2008
                Perspective Article

                Evolutionary Biology
                plasticity,disturbance,additive genetic variance,modularity,balancing selection,fluctuating selection,m-matrix,evolvability,biological invasion


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