Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 2451–2459 | Cite as

Prior adaptation, diversity, and introduction frequency mediate the positive relationship between propagule pressure and the initial success of founding populations

  • Megan L. Vahsen
  • Katriona Shea
  • Ciara L. Hovis
  • Brittany J. Teller
  • Ruth A. Hufbauer
Original Paper


Propagule pressure is often considered the most consistent predictor of the success of founding populations. This relationship could be mediated by the composition of the founding group (e.g. level of prior adaptation to the recipient environment or its diversity) as well as the introduction scenario (i.e. the frequency, size and timing of discrete introduction events). We introduced groups of Tribolium castaneum (red flour beetle) eggs across three levels of propagule pressure (n = 15, 30, 60), of three possible compositions (single, adapted lineage; single, unadapted lineage; mixed lineages) to a novel environment using six unique introduction scenarios, in a fully factorial design to evaluate the importance of composition and introduction scenario in influencing the relationship between propagule pressure and establishment. In our system, prior adaptation to the environment, including having some adapted individuals in mixed groups, rivaled the importance of propagule pressure in determining the establishment success and size of founding populations. More frequent introduction events resulted in fewer individuals that initially survived founding, but introduction scenario did not significantly influence establishment success or population size. This experimental evidence demonstrates the importance of context, both of the founding group and the recipient environment, in understanding how propagule pressure influences the success of founding populations.


Propagule pressure Colonization Genetic diversity Invasive species Adaptation 



We would like to thank graduate students S. Endriss and G. Tuttle and undergraduate lab assistants C. Reyes and M. Morris for their help with lab work. We are also grateful for input from members of the Shea lab at The Pennsylvania State University (especially J. Keller) and from B.A. Melbourne. Funding for this research was provided by the US National Science Foundation (DEB-0815373 and DEB-1556444 to KS and DEB-0949619 to RAH).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10530_2018_1713_MOESM1_ESM.docx (592 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 592 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan L. Vahsen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Katriona Shea
    • 4
  • Ciara L. Hovis
    • 4
    • 5
  • Brittany J. Teller
    • 4
  • Ruth A. Hufbauer
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest ManagementColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Degree Program in EcologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Notre DameSouth BendUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  5. 5.Center for Systems Integration and SustainabilityMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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