Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Conflicting selection on Cneorum tricoccon (Rutaceae) seed size caused by native and alien seed dispersers.

Abstract

The disappearance of native seed dispersers due to anthropogenic activities is often accompanied by the introduction of alien species, which may to some extent replace the ecological service provided by the extinct ones. Yet, little empirical evidence exists demonstrating the evolutionary consequences of such alien "replacement." Here, we document the conflicting selection exerted on seed size by two native lizards (Podarcis lilfordi and P. pityusensis) and an alien mammal species (Martes martes), all acting as legitimate seed dispersers of the Mediterranean relict Cneorum tricoccon. While lizards mostly exerted a negative directional selection on seed diameter, especially P. pityusensis, the much larger pine marten exerted positive selection on seed size. Our findings suggest that this among-disperser variation in the selection regimes, together with the occurrence of spatial variation in the presence of each seed disperser, help to create the geographical variation observed for seed size of C. tricoccon. To our knowledge, this is the first empirical evidence showing opposing selective pressures between native and alien species in the seed dispersal process in an invaded ecosystem.