Founder effects and phenotypic variation in Adelges cooleyi, an insect pest introduced to the eastern United States.
Introduced organisms experience founder effects including genetic bottlenecks that result in significant reductions in genetic variation. Genetic bottlenecks may constrain the evolution of phenotypic traits that facilitate success in novel habitats. We examined the effect of introduction into novel environments on genetic diversity of an insect pest, Adelges cooleyi, which was introduced into the eastern United States during the mid nineteenth century. We compared variation in mitochondrial and nuclear genomes in native and introduced samples to determine the effect of introduction on genetic variation experienced by this insect. We also measured an ecologically important phenotype, variation in host preference, in both native and introduced samples to compare variation in that trait with molecular genetic variation. To further investigate the relationship between genetic and phenotypic variation, we examined the degree to which mtDNA haplotypes provide information about host preference. Adelges cooleyi in eastern North America has significantly reduced genetic and phenotypic variation, but this low variation does not appear to have prevented persistence in a novel environment. Introduced insects appear to have retained host preference phenotypes similar to those of insects found where introductions likely originated.