Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ready on arrival: standing variation at a chromosomal inversion contributes to rapid adaptation in an invasive marine crab.

Abstract

In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Tepolt et al. (2021) illustrate how the genetic architecture of adaptation and life history influence invasive success. A marvel of many invasive species is that they are incredibly successful despite evolutionary expectations that they will have low adaptive potential and suffer inbreeding depression due to initially small founding population sizes. Determining the combinations of ecoevolutionary factors that permit this apparent "genetic paradox of invasions" is an ongoing endeavour of invasive species research. Tepolt et al. (2021) study the European green crab in its invasive range on the North American west coast. Following a single introduction into California, this crab quickly spread across a wide latitude gradient, despite low diversity in the original founding population. Adaptation of this crab to clinal variation in temperature appeared largely driven by an inferred chromosomal inversion. This inversion exists as a balanced polymorphism in the European home range of green crabs and is associated with thermal tolerance. Tepolt et al. (2021) therefore demonstrate that adaptive evolution post introduction need not be impeded by bottlenecks if variation at key parts of the genome is available and can be maintained in introduced populations. Moreover, Tepolt et al. (2021) show how chromosomal inversions acting as large-effect loci might facilitate rapid responses to selection in introduced populations.