Multimodal dispersal during the range expansion of the tropical house gecko Hemidactylus mabouia


  • Funded by the University of Cincinnati Weiman Wendel Benedict Award and the University Research Council Award.

Kristen H. Short, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0006. Tel: 513-556-9719; Fax: 513-556-5299; E-mail:


Dispersal influences both the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of range expansion. While some studies have demonstrated a role for human-mediated dispersal during invasion, the genetic effects of such dispersal remain to be understood, particularly in terrestrial range expansions. In this study, we investigated multimodal dispersal during the range expansion of the invasive gecko Hemidactylus mabouia in Florida using 12 microsatellite loci. We investigated dispersal patterns at the regional scale (metropolitan areas), statewide scale (state of Florida), and global scale (including samples from the native range). Dispersal was limited at the smallest, regional scale, within metropolitan areas, as reflected by the presence of genetic structure at this scale, which is in agreement with a previous study in this same invasion at even smaller spatial scales. Surprisingly, there was no detectable genetic structure at the intermediate statewide scale, which suggests dispersal is not limited across the state of Florida. There was evidence of genetic differentiation between Florida and other areas where H. mabouia occurs, so we concluded that at the largest scale, dispersal was limited. Humans likely contributed to patterns of dispersal at all three scales but in different ways. Infrequent low-volume dispersal has occurred within regions, frequent high-volume dispersal has occurred across the state, and infrequent long-distance dispersal has occurred among continents at the global scale. This study highlights the importance of considering different modes of dispersal at multiple spatial scales to understand the dynamics of invasion and range expansion.