Resistance in introduced populations of a freshwater snail to native range parasites.
Introduced species provide an opportunity to examine responses to novel ecological conditions, in particular to the absence of co-evolved enemies. Introduced populations could evolve lower investment in resistance or could down-regulate their immune system as a plastic response to enemy absence. The response might have consequences for the success of introduced species. Assuming a trade-off between resistance and traits related to demographic success, an evolved change or reallocation from resistance could increase the chances of invasions. On the other hand, introduced populations could have increased resistance as a correlate of greater vigour and competitive ability among successful invaders [Sampling Bias hypothesis (SBH)]. These hypotheses make different predictions about investment in resistance in introduced populations. Using a New Zealand clonal snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum), we examined the resistance of three introduced genotypes (one from the US and two from Europe) to several populations of a native range parasite (Microphallus sp.). One genotype (Euro A) was resistant to all native range parasite populations, consistent with the SBH. However, two remaining genotypes (Euro C and US 1) were less susceptible to parasite populations that were allopatric to their source populations. Furthermore, resistance of one genotype (US 1) collected from the introduced range was indistinguishable from its resistance when collected from the range of the parasite. Hence, there was no evidence for decreased resistance in the absence of native enemies, which is inconsistent with hypotheses that envision reduced allocation to resistance or a trade-off between competitive ability and resistance.