• Chloroplast DNA;
  • coalescent;
  • invasion;
  • mismatch distribution;
  • phylogeography;
  • range expansion;
  • Silene

For a species rapidly expanding its geographic range, such as during biological invasion, most alleles in the introduced range will have their evolutionary origins in the native range. Yet, the way in which historical processes occurring over evolutionary time in the native range contribute to the diversity sampled during contemporary invasion is largely unknown. We used chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) gene genealogies and coalescent methods to study two congeneric plants, Silene latifolia and S. vulgaris. We examined how phylogenetic diversity was shaped by demographic growth and historical range expansions in the native European range, and how this history affected the diversity sampled during their recent invasion of North America. Genealogies from both species depart from neutrality, likely as a result of demographic expansion in the ancestral range, the timing of which corresponds to shortly after each species originated. However, the species differ in the spatial distribution of cpDNA lineages across the native range. Silene latifolia shows a highly significant phylogeographic structure that most likely reflects different avenues of the post-glacial expansion into northern Europe from Mediterranean refugia. By contrast, cpDNA lineages in S. vulgaris have been widely scattered across Europe during, or since, the most recent post-glacial expansion. These different evolutionary histories resulted in dramatic differences in how phylogenetic diversity was sampled during invasion of North America. In S. latifolia, relatively few, discrete invasion events from a structured native range resulted in a rather severe genetic bottleneck, but also opportunities for admixture among previously isolated lineages. In S. vulgaris, lack of genetic structure was accompanied by more representative sampling of phylogenetic diversity during invasion, and reduced potential for admixture. Our results provide clear insights into how historical processes may feed forward to influence the phylogenetic diversity of species invading new geographic ranges.