Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Loci under selection during multiple range expansions of an invasive plant are mostly population specific, but patterns are associated with climate.

Abstract

Identifying the genes underlying rapid evolutionary changes, describing their function and ascertaining the environmental pressures that determine fitness are the central elements needed for understanding of evolutionary processes and phenotypic changes that improve the fitness of populations. It has been hypothesized that rapid adaptive changes in new environments may contribute to the rapid spread and success of invasive plants and animals. As yet, studies of adaptation during invasion are scarce, as is knowledge of the genes underlying adaptation, especially in multiple replicated invasions. Here, we quantified how genotype frequencies change during invasions, resulting in rapid evolution of naturalized populations. We used six fully replicated common garden experiments in Brazil where Pinus taeda (loblolly pine) was introduced at the same time, in the same numbers, from the same seed sources, and has formed naturalized populations expanding outward from the plantations. We used a combination of nonparametric, population genetics and multivariate statistics to detect changes in genotype frequencies along each of the six naturalization gradients and their association with climate as well as shifts in allele frequencies compared to the source populations. Results show 25 genes with significant shifts in genotype frequencies. Six genes had shifts in more than one population. Climate explained 25% of the variation in the groups of genes under selection across all locations, but specific genes under strong selection during invasions did not show climate-related convergence. In conclusion, we detected rapid evolutionary changes during invasive range expansions, but the particular gene-level patterns of evolution may be population specific.