Date of this Version
Molecular Ecology (2015) 24, 2164–2176
While genetic diversity is hypothesized to be an important factor explaining invasion success, there is no consensus yet on how variation in source populations or demographic processes affects invasiveness. We used mitochondrial DNA haplotypic and microsatellite genotypic data to investigate levels of genetic variation and reconstruct the history of replicate invasions on three continents in a globally invasive bird, the monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus). We evaluated whether genetic diversity at invasive sites could be explained by (i) the native source populations from which they were derived and (ii) demographic bottlenecks during introduction. Genetic data indicated a localized source area for most sampled invasive populations, with limited evidence for admixing of native source populations. This pattern largely coincides with historical data on pet trade exports. However, the invasive populations are genetically more similar than predicted from the export data alone. The extent of bottleneck effects varied among invasive populations. The observed low genetic diversity, evidence of demographic contraction and restricted source area do not support the hypothesis that invasion is favoured by the mixing and recombining of genetic variation from multiple source populations. Instead, they suggest that reduced genetic variation through random processes may not inhibit successful establishment and invasion in this species. However, convergent selection across invasive sites could also explain the observed patterns of reduction and similarity in genetic variation and/or the restricted source area. In general, the alternative explanation of intraspecific variation in invasive potential among genotypes or geographic areas is neglected, but warrants more attention as it could inform comparative studies and management of biological invaders.