Adaptation to an invasive host is collapsing a native ecotype

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Meredith Cenzer


Locally adapted populations are often used as model systems for the early stages of ecological speciation, but most of these young divergent lineages will never become complete species. While the collapse of incipient species is theoretically common, very few examples have been documented in nature. Here I show that soapberry bugs (Jadera haematoloma) have lost adaptations to their native host plant (Cardiospermum corindum) and are regionally specializing on an invasive host plant (Koelreuteria elegans), collapsing a classic and well-documented example of local adaptation. All populations that were adapted to the native host - including those still found on that host today - are now better adapted to the invasive in multiple phenotypes. Weak differentiation remains in two traits, suggesting that homogenization across the region is incomplete. This study highlights the potential for adaptation to invasive species to disrupt native communities by swamping adaptation to native conditions through maladaptive gene flow.

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