Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The implications of rapid eco-evolutionary processes for biological control - a review.

Abstract

Novel environmental conditions experienced by introduced species can drive rapid evolution of diverse traits. In turn, rapid evolution, both adaptive and non-adaptive, can influence population size, growth rate, and other important ecological characteristics of populations. In addition, spatial evolutionary processes that arise from a combination of assortative mating between highly dispersive individuals at the expanding edge of populations and altered reproductive rates of those individuals can accelerate expansion speed. Growing experimental evidence shows that the effects of rapid evolution on ecological dynamics can be quite large, and thus it can affect establishment, persistence, and the distribution of populations. We review the experimental and theoretical literature on such eco-evolutionary feedbacks and evaluate the implications of these processes for biological control. Experiments show that evolving populations can establish at higher rates and grow larger than non-evolving populations. However, non-adaptive processes, such as genetic drift and inbreeding depression can also lead to reduced fitness and declines in population size. Spatial evolutionary processes can increase spread rates and change the fitness of individuals at the expansion front. These examples demonstrate the power of eco-evolutionary dynamics and indicate that evolution is likely more important in biocontrol programs than previously realized. We discuss how this knowledge can be used to enhance efficacy of biological control.