Evolution alters the consequences of invasions in experimental communities

  • An Erratum to this article was published on 06 March 2017


Evolution has the capacity to alter the course of biological invasions, although such changes remain mostly unexplored by experiments. Integrating evolution into studies of invasions is important, because species traits can potentially evolve in ways that either moderate or exacerbate the impacts of invasions. We have assessed whether species evolved during experimental invasions by comparing the performance of founder populations and their potentially evolved descendants in communities of ciliates and rotifers. Residents (analogous to native species) that have previous experience with invaders consistently reduced the performance of naive invaders, supporting the emergence of increased biotic resistance as one consequence of evolution during invasions. Experienced invaders exhibited both increased and decreased performance depending on the invader species considered. Through its influence on performance and species abundance, evolution also changed community composition during the course of invasions. The idiosyncratic patterns of evolutionary changes in invading and resident species complicate predictions about the long-term consequences of invasions from initial post-invasion dynamics.

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Figure 1: Experimental design with assemblages A and B.
Figure 2: Prediction and response to potential evolutionary history of both invaders.
Figure 3: Response of resident species of assemblage A to potential evolutionary history with invading E. daidaleos.
Figure 4: Response of resident species of assemblage B to potential evolutionary history with invading P. bursaria .
Figure 5: Community response to the potential evolutionary history of resident and invading species.


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This research was supported by Rutgers University (P.J.M.) and a Rutgers University Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution Ted Stiles Grant (C.A.F). We thank T. Fukami, S. Lawler, S. Naeem, O. Petchey, and members of the Morin Laboratory Group for comments on the manuscript.

Author information

C.A.F. and P.J.M. designed the study. C.A.F. collected and analysed all data. C.A.F. and P.J.M. jointly wrote the manuscript.

Correspondence to Cara A. Faillace.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Figures 1 and 2, Supplementary Table 1 (PDF 255 kb)

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Faillace, C., Morin, P. Evolution alters the consequences of invasions in experimental communities. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 0013 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-016-0013

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