Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Hybridization and invasiveness in social insects - the good, the bad and the hybrid.

Abstract

Hybridization may help drive biological invasions by reducing Allee effects, increasing genetic variation, and generating novel adaptive genotypes/phenotypes. Social insects (ants, bees, wasps, and termites) are among the world's worst invasive species. In this review, we study the relationship between hybridization and invasiveness in social insects. We examine three types of hybridization based on the reproductive characteristics of first-generation hybrids. We discuss several examples of the association between hybridization and invasiveness, which are predominantly found in bees and termites. However, hybridization also occurs in several non-invasive species, and highly invasive species are not consistently associated with hybridization events, indicating that hybridization is not a main driver of invasiveness in social insects. We discuss why hybridization is not more commonly seen in invasive social insects.