Post-colonization temporal genetic variation of an introduced fly, Rhagoletis completa

Yolanda H. Chen, Stewart H. Berlocher, Susan B. Opp, George K. Roderick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evolutionary biologists have been puzzled by the success of introduced species: despite founder effects that reduce genetic variability, invasive species are still successful at colonizing new environments. It is possible that the evolutionary processes during the post-colonization period may increase the genetic diversity and gene flow among invasive populations over time, facilitating their long-term success. Therefore, genetic diversity and population structure would be expected to show greater temporal variation for successful introduced populations than for native populations. We studied the population genetics of the walnut husk fly, Rhagoletis completa, which was introduced into California from the Midwestern US in the early 1900s. We used microsatellites and allozymes to genotype current and historic fly populations, providing a rare perspective on temporal variability in population genetic parameters. We found that introduced populations showed greater temporal fluctuations in allele frequencies than native populations. Some introduced populations also showed an increase in genetic diversity over time, indicating multiple introductions had occurred. Population genetic structure decreased in both native and introduced populations over time. Our study demonstrates that introduced species are not at equilibrium and post-colonization processes may be important in ameliorating the loss of genetic diversity associated with biological invasions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1059-1075
Number of pages17
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2010


  • Colonization
  • Establishment
  • Invasions
  • Population structure
  • Temporal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Insect Science


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