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Founder events predict changes in genetic diversity during human-mediated range expansions

  • Tobias Uller
  • Roosa Leimu
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 3478-3485
Publication/Series: Global Change Biology
Volume: 17
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Intentional or accidental introduction of species to new locations is predicted to result in loss of genetic variation and increase the likelihood of inbreeding, thus reducing population viability and evolutionary potential. However, multiple introductions and large founder numbers can prevent loss of genetic diversity and may therefore facilitate establishment success and range expansion. Based on a meta-analysis of 119 introductions of 85 species of plants and animals, we here show a quantitative effect of founding history on genetic diversity in introduced populations. Both introduction of large number of individuals and multiple introduction events significantly contribute to maintaining or even increasing genetic diversity in introduced populations. The most consistent loss of genetic diversity is seen in insects and mammals, whereas introduced plant populations tend to have higher genetic variation than native populations. However, loss or gain of genetic diversity does not explain variation in the extent to which plant or animal populations become invasive outside of their native range. These results provide strong support for predictions from population genetics theory with respect to patterns of genetic diversity in introduced populations, but suggest that invasiveness is not limited by genetic bottlenecks.


  • Biological Sciences


  • ISSN: 1354-1013
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at]


Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour


Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)