Projects per year
Human dispersal of organisms is an important process modifying natural patterns of biodiversity. Such dispersal generates new patterns of genetic diversity that overlie natural phylogeographical signatures, allowing discrimination between alternative dispersal mechanisms. Here we use allele frequency and DNA sequence data to distinguish between alternative scenarios (unassisted range expansion and long range introduction) for the colonization of northern Europe by an oak-feeding gallwasp, Andricus kollari. Native to Mediterranean latitudes from Portugal to Iran, this species became established in northern Europe following human introduction of a host plant, the Turkey oak Quercus cerris. Colonization of northern Europe is possible through three alternative routes: (i) unassisted range expansion from natural populations in the Iberian Peninsula; (ii) unassisted range expansion from natural populations in Italy and Hungary; or (iii) descent from populations imported to the UK as trade goods from the eastern Mediterranean in the 1830s. We show that while populations in France were colonized from sources in Italy and Hungary, populations in the UK and neighbouring parts of coastal northern Europe encompass allozyme and sequence variation absent from the known native range. Further, these populations show demographic signatures expected for large stable populations, rather than signatures of rapid population growth from small numbers of founders. The extent and spatial distribution of genetic diversity in the UK suggests that these A. kollari populations are derived from introductions of large numbers of individuals from each of two genetically divergent centres of diversity in the eastern Mediterranean. The strong spatial patterning in genetic diversity observed between different regions of northern Europe, and between sites in the UK, is compatible with leptokurtic models of population establishment.