Levels of novel hybridization in the saltcedar invasion compared over seven decades
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Hybridization is proposed as one process that can enhance a plant species’ invasive ability. We quantified the levels of hybridization of 180 saltcedar plants (Tamarix spp.) of varying ages that span the history of an invasion along the Green River, Utah, USA. Plants ranging in establishment dates from 1930s to 2004 were analyzed using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms. All plants sampled, even those established before the Green River saltcedars were numerous, were assigned as hybrids, not as parental types that are still found in more extreme southern and northern latitudes in the USA. Our collections either did not capture the earliest parental types, parental types have failed to persist, or the first introductions to the Green River were already hybrids. In any case, it appears that hybrids have been a dominant part of this local invasion history, from establishment through invasion spread stages.