Environmental determinants of population divergence in life-history traits for an invasive species: climate, seasonality and natural enemies

Journal of Evolutionary Biology
S Seiter, J G Kingsolver


Invasive species cope with novel environments through both phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary change. However, the environmental factors that cause evolutionary divergence in invasive species are poorly understood. We developed predictions for how different life-history traits, and plasticity in those traits, may respond to environmental gradients in seasonal temperatures, season length and natural enemies. We then tested these predictions in four geographic populations of the invasive cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) from North America. We examined the influence of two rearing temperatures (20 and 26.7 °C) on pupal mass, pupal development time, immune function and fecundity. As predicted, development time was shorter and immune function was greater in populations adapted to longer season length. Also, phenotypic plasticity in development time was greater in regions with shorter growing seasons. Populations differed significantly in mean and plasticity of body mass and fecundity, but these differences were not associated with seasonal temperatures or season length. Our study shows that some life-history traits, such as development time and immune function, can evolve rapidly in response to latitudinal variation in sea...Continue Reading


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