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      Reduced genetic variation and the success of an invasive species

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          Abstract

          Despite the severe ecological and economic damage caused by introduced species, factors that allow invaders to become successful often remain elusive. Of invasive taxa, ants are among the most widespread and harmful. Highly invasive ants are often unicolonial, forming supercolonies in which workers and queens mix freely among physically separate nests. By reducing costs associated with territoriality, unicolonial species can attain high worker densities, allowing them to achieve interspecific dominance. Here we examine the behavior and population genetics of the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) in its native and introduced ranges, and we provide a mechanism to explain its success as an invader. Using microsatellite markers, we show that a population bottleneck has reduced the genetic diversity of introduced populations. This loss is associated with reduced intraspecific aggression among spatially separate nests, and leads to the formation of interspecifically dominant supercolonies. In contrast, native populations are more genetically variable and exhibit pronounced intraspecific aggression. Although reductions in genetic diversity are generally considered detrimental, these findings provide an example of how a genetic bottleneck can lead to widespread ecological success. In addition, these results provide insights into the origin and evolution of unicoloniality, which is often considered a challenge to kin selection theory.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Unrepeatable Repeatabilities: A Common Mistake

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            Estimating Relatedness Using Genetic Markers

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              Biological invasions: Lessons for ecology.

               D. L. Lodge (1993)
              Anthropogenic introduction of species is homogenizing the earth's biota. Consequences of introductions are sometimes great, and are directly related to global climate change, biodiversity AND release of genetically engineered organisms. Progress in invasion studies hinges on the following research trends: realization that species' ranges are naturally dynamic; recognition that colonist species and target communities cannot be studied independently, but that species-community interactions determine invasion success; increasingly quantitative tests of how species and habitat characteristics relate to invasibility and impact; recognition from paleobiological, experimental and modeling studies that history, chance and determinism together shape community invasibility. Copyright © 1993. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                May 23 2000
                May 16 2000
                May 23 2000
                : 97
                : 11
                : 5948-5953
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.100110397
                18539
                10811892
                © 2000
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