Tom Miller, an ecologist, and Brad Ochocki, a graduate student, used bean beetles to study the way invasive species colonize new territory.
The two Rice University scientists concluded that invasive species push farther and faster in their spread as a result of evolutionary factors affecting the invasion's first generation.This presents intriguing implications for natural-resource and agriculture managers who spend their time making predictions about the spread of such species.
The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Miller and Ochocki say those chose bean beetles because the species breeds quickly and requires little maintenance.They bred 10 generations of the beetles in their Rice University lab for the study.
The first generation to spearhead an invasion, they found, is the one that sees the most food and the least competition.Because of this, they give birth more offspring with the optimal combination of genetic traits for invasive maneuvering.
Ochocki calls this the "Olympic Village Effect." If Olympian athletes were to reproduce during the games, hypothetically speaking, they would produce offspring more likely to carry evolutionary traits for athletic attributes.Such implications speak volumes about the wealth of knowledge still ahead in the field of evolutionary biology.
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