Hybridization associated with species introductions can accelerate the decline of native species. The main objective of this study was to determine if the decline of a North American liana (American bittersweet, Celastrus scandens) in the eastern portion of its range is related to hybridization with an introduced congener (oriental bittersweet, C. orbiculatus). We used newly characterized microsatellite loci, a maternally-inherited chloroplast DNA marker, and field observation to survey individuals across the USA to determine the prevalence of hybrids, their importance in the invasion of C. orbiculatus, and the predominant direction of hybridization. We found that only 8.4 % of non-native genotypes were hybrids (20 of 239), and these hybrids were geographically widespread. Hybrids showed reduced seed set (decline of >98 %) and small, likely inviable pollen. Genetic analysis of a maternally inherited chloroplast marker showed that all 20 identified hybrids came from C. scandens seed parents. The strong asymmetry in pollen flow that favors fecundity in introduced males has the potential to greatly accelerate the decline of native species by wasting limited female reproductive effort.
- Biological invasion
- Microsatellite DNA
- Population genetics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics