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Keywords:

  • biological control;
  • evolution;
  • horticultural invasion;
  • invasive species;
  • lag phase;
  • natural history collections;
  • specimens

Abstract

The early phases of biological invasions are poorly understood. In particular, during the introduction, establishment, and possible lag phases, it is unclear to what extent evolution must take place for an introduced species to transition from established to expanding. In this study, we highlight three disparate data sources that can provide insights into evolutionary processes associated with invasion success: biological control organisms, horticultural introductions, and natural history collections. All three data sources potentially provide introduction dates, information about source populations, and genetic and morphological samples at different time points along the invasion trajectory that can be used to investigate preadaptation and evolution during the invasion process, including immediately after introduction and before invasive expansion. For all three data sources, we explore where the data are held, their quality, and their accessibility. We argue that these sources could find widespread use with a few additional pieces of data, such as voucher specimens collected at certain critical time points during biocontrol agent quarantine, rearing, and release and also for horticultural imports, neither of which are currently done consistently. In addition, public access to collected information must become available on centralized databases to increase its utility in ecological and evolutionary research.