EEB Seminar: February 15

This week we are pleased to welcome our very own Robert Colautti.

Ecological genetics of invasive plants: Adaptive evolution, genetic constraints, and their ecological consequences

Invasive species establish and proliferate in new environments that can differ markedly the native range – for example, by escaping from ‘enemies’. Environmental changes alter natural selection regimes, which could result in rapid evolution of new adaptive genotypes. In contrast to native species, studies measuring quantitative genetic variation, natural selection, and local adaptation are rare for invasive species. Available data suggest that invasive species may benefit from fewer genetic and ecological constraints than native species. Invasions represent extreme demographic bottlenecks, but there has been little impact on population divergence for ecologically important traits. Generally, spatial autocorrelation in population divergence (e.g. geographical clines) has not been incorporated into studies testing adaptive divergence, complicating comparative studies. Studies of invasive species that apply established methods in quantitative genetics and evolutionary ecology are needed for understanding the role that rapid evolution plays in determining ecological winners and losers in the Anthropocene.

The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm.