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Neutral processes forming large clones during colonization of new areas

Journal article
Authors Marina Rafajlovic
David Kleinhans
C. Gulliksson
Johan Fries
Daniel H Johansson
Angelica Ardehed
Lisa Sundqvist
Ricardo. T. Pereyra
Bernhard Mehlig
Per R. Jonsson
Kerstin Johannesson
Published in Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 30
Issue 8
Pages 1544-1560
ISSN 1010-061X
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of marine sciences
Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 1544-1560
Language en
Keywords asexual wave, Fucus radicans, gene surfing, invasive species, long-range dispersal, post-glacial expansion, transient effects
Subject categories Evolutionary Biology


© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology Published by John Wiley & Sons ltd on Behalf of European Society for Evolutionary Biology. In species reproducing both sexually and asexually clones are often more common in recently established populations. Earlier studies have suggested that this pattern arises due to natural selection favouring generally or locally successful genotypes in new environments. Alternatively, as we show here, this pattern may result from neutral processes during species’ range expansions. We model a dioecious species expanding into a new area in which all individuals are capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction, and all individuals have equal survival rates and dispersal distances. Even under conditions that favour sexual recruitment in the long run, colonization starts with an asexual wave. After colonization is completed, a sexual wave erodes clonal dominance. If individuals reproduce more than one season, and with only local dispersal, a few large clones typically dominate for thousands of reproductive seasons. Adding occasional long-distance dispersal, more dominant clones emerge, but they persist for a shorter period of time. The general mechanism involved is simple: edge effects at the expansion front favour asexual (uniparental) recruitment where potential mates are rare. Specifically, our model shows that neutral processes (with respect to genotype fitness) during the population expansion, such as random dispersal and demographic stochasticity, produce genotype patterns that differ from the patterns arising in a selection model. The comparison with empirical data from a post-glacially established seaweed species (Fucus radicans) shows that in this case, a neutral mechanism is strongly supported.

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