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Weak founder effect signal in a recent introduction of Caribbean Anolis

Authors

  • J. EALES,

    1. Environment Centre for Wales, School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK,
    2. Wildlife DNA Services, Memorial Building, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
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  • R. S. THORPE,

    1. Environment Centre for Wales, School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK,
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  • A. MALHOTRA

    1. Environment Centre for Wales, School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK,
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R. S. Thorpe, Fax: 01248 371644; E-mail: r.s.thorpe@bangor.ac.uk

Abstract

Species introductions provide a rare opportunity to study rapid evolutionary and genetic processes in natural systems, often under novel environmental pressures. Few empirical studies have been able to characterize genetic founder effects associated with demographic bottlenecks at the earliest stages of species introductions. This study utilizes prior mitochondrial DNA information which identifies the putative source population for a recently established (c. 7 years between import and sampling) species introduction. We investigated the evidence for a founder effect in a highly successful introduction of a Puerto Rican Anolis species that has established itself on Dominica to the localized exclusion of the native, endemic anole. Five highly polymorphic microsatellite loci were used to explore the partitioning of genetic diversity within and between native source, native nonsource, and introduced populations of Anolis cristatellus. Group comparisons reveal significantly lower allelic richness and expected heterozygosity in introduced populations compared to native populations; however, tests for heterozygosity excess relative to allelic richness failed to provide consistent evidence for a founder effect within introduced populations. Significant levels of within-population genetic variation were present in both native and introduced populations. We suggest that aspects of the reproductive ecology of Anolis (high fecundity, sperm storage and multiple paternity) offer an important mechanism by which genetic variation may be maintained following demographic bottlenecks and founder events in some squamate taxa.

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