Chronosequence of invasion reveals minimal losses of population genomic diversity, niche expansion, and trait divergence in the polyploid, leafy spurge

Thomas A Lake, Ryan Briscoe Runquist, Lex E Flagel, David Moeller

Research output: Working paperPreprint

Abstract

Rapid evolution may play an important role in the range expansion of invasive species and modify forecasts of invasion, which are the backbone of land management strategies. However, losses of genetic variation associated with colonization bottlenecks may constrain trait and niche divergence at leading range edges. The spatial and temporal scales over which adaptation contributes to invasion dynamics remains unresolved. We leveraged detailed records of the ∼130 year invasion history of the invasive polyploid plant, leafy spurge (Euphorbia virgata), across ∼500km in Minnesota, U.S.A. We examined the consequences of range expansion for population genomic diversity, niche breadth, and the evolution of germination behavior. Using genotyping-by-sequencing, we found some population structure in the range core, where introduction occurred, but panmixia among all other populations. Range expansion was accompanied by only modest losses in sequence diversity, with small, isolated populations at the leading edge harboring similar levels of diversity to those in the range core. The climatic niche expanded during most of range expansion, and the niche of the range core was largely non-overlapping with the invasion front. Ecological niche models indicated that mean temperature of the warmest quarter was the strongest determinant of habitat suitability and that populations at the leading edge had the lowest habitat suitability. Guided by these findings, we tested for rapid evolution in germination behavior over the time course of range expansion using a common garden experiment and temperature manipulations. Germination behavior diverged from early to late phases of the invasion, with populations from later phases having higher dormancy at lower temperatures. Our results suggest that trait evolution has contributed to niche expansion during invasion and that distribution models of future invasion may underestimate invasion potential without accounting for evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 4 2023

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