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Keywords:

  • Bottleneck;
  • founder effect;
  • gene flow;
  • invasiveness;
  • Orthoptera;
  • temporal change

Abstract

Newly founded isolated populations need to overcome detrimental effects of low genetic diversity. The establishment success of a population may therefore depend on various mechanisms such as assortative mating, purging of deleterious alleles, creation of new mutations and/or repeated inflow of new genotypes to reduce the effects of inbreeding and further loss of genetic variation. We compared the level of genetic variation in introduced populations of an insect species (Metrioptera roeselii) far beyond its natural distribution with levels found in their respective founder populations and coupled the data with timing since establishment. This allowed us to analyze if the introduced populations showed signs of temporal changes in genetic variation and have made it possible to evaluate underlying mechanisms. For this, we used neutral genetic markers, seven microsatellite loci and a 676–bp-long sequence of the mtDNA COI gene. All tested indices (allelic richness, unbiased expected heterozygosity, effective size, haplotype diversity, and nucleotide diversity) except inbreeding coefficient had significantly higher values in populations within the founding populations inside the continuous area of the species distribution compared with the introduced populations. A logarithmic model showed a significant correlation of both allelic richness and unbiased expected heterozygosity with age of the isolated populations. Considering the species' inferred colonization history and likely introduction pathways, we suggest that multiple introductions are the main mechanism behind the temporal pattern observed. However, we argue that influences of assortative mating, directional selection, and effects of an exceptional high intrapopulation mutation rate may have impacts. The ability to regain genetic diversity at this level may be one of the main reasons why M. roeselii successfully continue to colonize northern Europe.