Biological Invasions

, 11:1093 | Cite as

Hybridization and the evolution of invasiveness in plants and other organisms

  • Kristina A. SchierenbeckEmail author
  • Norman C. Ellstrand
Original Paper


Less than a decade ago, we proposed that hybridization could serve as a stimulus for the evolution of invasiveness in plants (Ellstrand and Schierenbeck Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 97:7043–7050, 2000). A substantial amount of research has taken place on that topic since the publication of that paper, stimulating the symposium that makes up this special issue. Here we present an update of this emergent field, based both on the papers in this volume and on the relevant literature. We reevaluate the lists that we presented in our earlier paper of reports in which hybridization has preceded the evolution of invasiveness. We discard a few cases that were found to be in error, published only as abstracts, or based on personal communication. Then we augment the list from examples in this volume and a supplementary literature search. Despite the omissions, the total number of cases has increased. Many have been strengthened. We add a list of cases in which there has been evidence that intra-taxon hybridization has preceded the evolution of invasiveness. We also provide a number of examples from organisms other than plants. We consider how our examples suggest mechanisms whereby hybridization may act to stimulate the evolution of invasiveness. Hybridization does not represent the only evolutionary pathway to invasiveness, but it is one that can explain why the appearance of invasiveness often involves a long lag time and/or multiple introductions of exotics.


Evolution Gene flow Hybridization Invasive plants Weeds 



This work was supported by funding from National Science Foundation Grants (9973734 and 9322795) to K.A.S. and from a University of California Competitive grant (1997-980069), an Environmental Protection Agency grant (R-826102-01-0), a USDA NRI CSREES Grant (2003-35320-13559), and a National Science Foundation Biocomplexity Grant (DEB-0409984) to N.C.E. This work also benefited from conversations with participants from the NSF-Research Collaboration Network grant to Ruth Hufbauer and Mark Torchin (DEB-0541673).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristina A. Schierenbeck
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Norman C. Ellstrand
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversityChicoUSA
  2. 2.USDA/ARS, Exotic and Invasive Weeds UnitUniversity of Nevada, RenoRenoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and Center for Conservation BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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