An important step in invasive biology is to assess biological variables that could be used to predict invasion success. The study of genetics, evolution, and interactions of invasive and native species in invaded ranges provides a unique opportunity to study processes in population genetics and the capability of a species' range expansion. Here, we used information from microsatellite DNA markers to test if genetic variation relates to propagule pressure in the successful invasion of an apex predator (the Amazonian cichlid Cichla) into Southeastern Brazilian River systems. Invasive populations of Cichla have negatively impacted many freshwater communities in Southeastern Brazil since the 1960s. Reduction of genetic variation was observed in all invasive populations for both Cichla kelberi (CK) and Cichla piquiti (CP). For instance, heterozygosity was lower in the invasive range when compared to native populations from the Amazon basin (CP HE = 0.179/0.44; CK HE = 0.258/0.536 respectively). Therefore, despite the successful invasion of Cichla in southeast Brazil, low genetic diversity was observed in the introduced populations. We suggest that a combination of factors, such as Cichla's reproductive and feeding strategies, the "evolutionary trap" effect and the biotic resistance hypothesis, overcome their depauperete genetic diversity, being key aspects in this apex predator invasion.
- Invasion biology
- Population genetics