Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 869–885 | Cite as

Marine invasion genetics: from spatio-temporal patterns to evolutionary outcomes

  • Marc RiusEmail author
  • Xavier Turon
  • Giacomo Bernardi
  • Filip A. M. Volckaert
  • Frédérique Viard
Molecular Tools


Over the last 15 years studies on invasion genetics have provided important insights to unravel cryptic diversity, track the origin of colonizers and reveal pathways of introductions. Despite all these advances, to date little is known about how evolutionary processes influence the observed genetic patterns in marine biological invasions. Here, firstly we review the literature on invasion genetics that include samples from European seas. These seas constitute a wide array of unique water masses with diverse degrees of connectivity, and have a long history of species introductions. We found that only a small fraction of the recorded introduced species has been genetically analysed. Furthermore, most studies restrict their approach to describe patterns of cryptic diversity and genetic structure, with the underlying mechanisms involved in the invasion process being largely understudied. Secondly, we analyse how genetic, reproductive and anthropogenic traits shape genetic patterns of marine introduced species. We found that most studies reveal similar genetic diversity values in both native and introduced ranges, report evidence of multiple introductions, and show that genetic patterns in the introduced range are not explained by taxonomic group or reproductive strategy. Finally, we discuss the evolutionary implications derived from genetic patterns observed in non-indigenous species. We identify different scenarios that are determined by propagule pressure, phenotypic plasticity and pre-adaptation, and the effects of selection and genetic admixture. We conclude that there is a need for further investigations of evolutionary mechanisms that affect individual fitness and adaptation to rapid environmental change.


Europe Hybridisation Introduced species Invasion routes Cryptic invasion Population genetics 



We thank Benoit Simon-Bouhet and Florentine Riquet for providing data and assistance in the design of some figures. We are grateful to the reviewers who provided comments that greatly improved the manuscript. Funding was provided by the European Union FP7 project COCONET (7th PM, Grant agreement #287844) and a number of other sources. F.Vi. acknowledges the HiFlo (ANR-08-BLAN-0334) and HySea (ANR-12-BSV7-0011) ANR programmes. X.T. is grateful to the Spanish Ministry of Science projects CTM2010-22218 and CTM2013-48163. The publication of this paper was supported by CONISMA, the Italian National Interuniversity Consortium for Marine Sciences, which received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007- 2013) for the project VECTORS (Vectors of Change in Oceans and Seas Marine Life, Impact on Economic Sectors, Grant agreement #266445, This paper stems from the International workshop MOLTOOLS (Molecular Tools for Monitoring Marine Invasive Species), held in Lecce, Italy, in September 2012. We thank Stefano Piraino and the project VECTORS for the invitation to this workshop.

Supplementary material

10530_2014_792_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (72 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 73 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Rius
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xavier Turon
    • 2
  • Giacomo Bernardi
    • 3
  • Filip A. M. Volckaert
    • 4
  • Frédérique Viard
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Ocean and Earth ScienceUniversity of Southampton, National Oceanography CentreSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB-CSIC)BlanesSpain
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA
  4. 4.Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics, Department of BiologyUniversity of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  5. 5.Sorbonne Université, UPMC University Paris 06, Team Diversity and Connectivity in Coastal Marine Landscapes, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de RoscoffRoscoffFrance
  6. 6.CNRS, Laboratory Adaptation and Diversity in the Marine Environment, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de RoscoffRoscoffFrance

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