, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 515-521

Does intraspecific hybridization contribute to the evolution of invasiveness?: an experimental test

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One of the major objectives of research on invasive species is to determine the relative importance of different evolutionary and ecological forces in the invasion process. It was recently suggested that post-introduction intraspecific hybridization between previously isolated genotypes could produce novel and/or heterotic progeny that might express enhanced invasiveness. We tested this hypothesis with Silene latifolia, a European native that has successfully invaded North America and has previously been shown to have undergone genetic change since its introduction. In a common garden experiment we compared the performance of plants derived from within and between population crosses from eight European and 18 North American populations. Results showed that there was no significant effect of crossing distance on progeny phenotype. Furthermore, progeny from within or between population crosses did not differ in size, reproductive output or survival. Collectively, these results suggest that the invasive phenotype of S. latifolia is likely the result of natural selection and/or genetic drift rather than intraspecific hybridization.