Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Rapid local adaptation in both sexual and asexual invasive populations of monkeyflowers (Mimulus spp.).

Abstract

Background and Aims Traditionally, local adaptation has been seen as the outcome of a long evolutionary history, particularly with regard to sexual lineages. By contrast, phenotypic plasticity has been thought to be most important during the initial stages of population establishment and in asexual species. We evaluated the roles of adaptive evolution and phenotypic plasticity in the invasive success of two closely related species of invasive monkeyflowers (Mimulus) in the UK that have contrasting reproductive strategies: M. guttatus combines sexual (seeds) and asexual (clonal growth) reproduction while M. × robertsii is entirely asexual. Methods We compared the clonality (number of stolons), floral and vegetative phenotype, and phenotypic plasticity of native (M. guttatus) and invasive (M. guttatus and M. × robertsii) populations grown in controlled environment chambers under the environmental conditions at each latitudinal extreme of the UK. The goal was to discern the roles of temperature and photoperiod on the expression of phenotypic traits. Next, we tested the existence of local adaptation in the two species within the invasive range with a reciprocal transplant experiment at two field sites in the latitudinal extremes of the UK, and analysed which phenotypic traits underlie potential local fitness advantages in each species. Key Results Populations of M. guttatus in the UK showed local adaptation through sexual function (fruit production), while M. × robertsii showed local adaptation via asexual function (stolon production). Phenotypic selection analyses revealed that different traits are associated with fitness in each species. Invasive and native populations of M. guttatus had similar phenotypic plasticity and clonality. M. × robertsii presents greater plasticity and clonality than native M. guttatus, but most populations have restricted clonality under the warm conditions of the south of the UK. Conclusions This study provides experimental evidence of local adaptation in a strictly asexual invasive species with high clonality and phenotypic plasticity. This indicates that even asexual taxa can rapidly (<200 years) adapt to novel environmental conditions in which alternative strategies may not ensure the persistence of populations.