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What we still don't know about invasion genetics

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Review article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2015
Author Bock Dan G., Caseys Celine, Cousens Roger D., Hahn Min A., Heredia Sylvia M., Hübner Sariel, Turner Kathryn G., Whitney Kenneth D., Rieseberg Loren H.,
Project Conséquences évolutives de l’hybridation sur les métabolites secondaires du tournesol
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Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Mol Ecol
Page(s) 2277
Title of proceedings Mol Ecol
DOI 10.1111/mec.13032


Publication of The Genetics of Colonizing Species in 1965 launched the field of invasion genetics and highlighted the value of biological invasions as natural ecological and evolutionary experiments. Here, we review the past 50 years of invasion genetics to assess what we have learned and what we still don't know, focusing on the genetic changes associated with invasive lineages and the evolutionary processes driving these changes. We also suggest potential studies to address still-unanswered questions. We now know, for example, that rapid adaptation of invaders is common and generally not limited by genetic variation. On the other hand, and contrary to prevailing opinion 50 years ago, the balance of evidence indicates that population bottlenecks and genetic drift typically have negative effects on invasion success, despite their potential to increase additive genetic variation and the frequency of peak shifts. Numerous unknowns remain, such as the sources of genetic variation, the role of so-called expansion load and the relative importance of propagule pressure vs. genetic diversity for successful establishment. While many such unknowns can be resolved by genomic studies, other questions may require manipulative experiments in model organisms. Such studies complement classical reciprocal transplant and field-based selection experiments, which are needed to link trait variation with components of fitness and population growth rates. We conclude by discussing the potential for studies of invasion genetics to reveal the limits to evolution and to stimulate the development of practical strategies to either minimize or maximize evolutionary responses to environmental change.