Conservation Genetics

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 793–803 | Cite as

Invasion genetics of Microstegium vimineum (Poaceae) within the James River Basin of Virginia, USA

Research Article


Patterns of spatial genetic structure produced following the expansion of an invasive species into novel habitats reflect demographic processes that have shaped the genetic structure we see today. We examined 359 individuals from 23 populations over 370 km within the James River Basin of Virginia, USA as well as four populations outside of the basin. Population diversity levels and genetic structure was quantified using several analyses. Within the James River Basin there was evidence for three separate introductions and a zone of secondary contact between two distinct lineages suggesting a relatively recent expansion within the basin. Microstegium vimineum possesses a mixed-mating system advantageous to invasion and populations with low diversity were found suggesting a recent founder event and self-fertilization. However, surprisingly high levels of diversity were found in some populations suggesting that out-crossing does occur. Understanding how invasive species spread and the genetic consequences following expansion may provide insights into the cause of invasiveness and can ultimately lead to better management strategies for control and eradication.


Microstegium vimineum Invasive species Genetic structure Founder effects Secondary contact 



The authors thank Associate Editor Andrew Young and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful insights and comments on the initial version of this manuscript. In addition SAB would also like to thank the Virginia Department of Forestry for identification of sampling sites, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for permission to sample from state parks and wildlife management areas. Portions of this study were supported by a VCU Rice Center Research Grant to SAB (Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Center Contribution #16).

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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