Biological Invasions

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 515–521 | Cite as

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

  • Lorne M. WolfeEmail author
  • Amy C. Blair
  • Brandy M. Penna
Original paper


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.


Intraspecific hybridization Biological invasion Silene latifolia Survival Common garden Gene flow Interbreeding 



We thank J. Antonovics, J. Burns, G. Greenwood, M. Hood, J. Partain, D. Sowell and D. Taylor for help with field work; University of Virginia’s Mountain Lake Biological Station for providing research space and facilities, D. Baker for help with GIS; R. Chandler for statistical advice, and J. Antonovics, K. Burgess, R. Hufbauer, S. Keller, and two anonymous reviewers for discussion and/or for providing comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. This study was supported by grants from National Science Foundation (DEB 0349553) and United States Department of Agriculture (Weedy and Invasive Species) to L.M.W.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorne M. Wolfe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy C. Blair
    • 2
  • Brandy M. Penna
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest ManagementColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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