Invasive species are predicted to experience a reduction in genetic diversity during the introduction process because of founder effects, yet they are able to successfully establish in new regions and outcompete the native biota. Admixture has been proposed as a potential solution to this genetic paradox. We adopted a phylogeographic approach to investigate the invasion history of the delicate skink ( Lampropholis delicata) in the Pacific region and test the hypothesis that admixture is important for the success of biological invasions.
Eastern Australia and the Pacific region (Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, Hawaii).
We obtained mitochondrial DNA sequence data ( ND2, ND4) from across the native Australian range (238 samples, 120 populations) and 371 samples from the introduced range of L. delicata. Genetic distances and Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) were used to examine the level of genetic variation across the native and introduced ranges.
Fourteen haplotypes were evident in the introduced range (1 in Hawaii, 7 in New Zealand, 7 in Lord Howe Island), with a shared haplotype present in both New Zealand and Lord Howe Island. Five source regions were identified (Brisbane, Tenterfield, Border Ranges, Yamba-Coffs Harbour, Sydney) from across four distinct native-range genetic lineages. The Hawaiian population stems from a single introduction from Brisbane, whereas one or more introductions from the Tenterfield region led to the New Zealand populations. Multiple introductions from across all five source regions have resulted in extreme admixture (up to 8.3% sequence divergence) within Lord Howe Island.
L. delicata introductions are capable of being successful both in the presence and absence of admixture. Contrary to the predictions of the sequential two-step model, the presence of admixture was not related to the time since initial introduction. We suggest that the importance of admixture in determining the success of biological invasions has been overemphasized.