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Molecular systematics and population genetics of biological invasions: towards a better understanding of invasive species management

Authors

  • J. Le Roux,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
    2. Present address: Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, University of Stellenbosch, Natural Sciences Building, Matieland 7602, South Africa
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  • A.M. Wieczorek

    1. Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
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Dr J. Le Roux, Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, University of Stellenbosch, Natural Sciences Building, Matieland 7602, South Africa.
Email: jleroux@sun.ac.za

Abstract

The study of population genetics of invasive species offers opportunities to investigate rapid evolutionary processes at work, and while the ecology of biological invasions has enjoyed extensive attention in the past, the recentness of molecular techniques makes their application in invasion ecology a fairly new approach. Despite this, molecular biology has already proved powerful in inferring aspects not only relevant to the evolutionary biologist but also to those concerned with invasive species management. Here, we review the different molecular markers routinely used in such studies and their application(s) in addressing different questions in invasion ecology. We then review the current literature on molecular genetic studies aimed at improving management and the understanding of invasive species by resolving of taxonomic issues, elucidating geographical sources of invaders, detecting hybridisation and introgression, tracking dispersal and spread and assessing the importance of genetic diversity in invasion success. Finally, we make some suggestions for future research efforts in molecular ecology of biological invasions.

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