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Title: When adaptation is slowed down: Genomic analysis of evolutionary stasis in thermal tolerance during biological invasion in a novel climate

Research conducted during the past two decades has demonstrated that biological invasions are excellent models of rapid evolution. Even so, characteristics of invasive populations such as a short time for recombination to assemble optimal combinations of alleles may occasionally limit adaptation to new environments. Here, we investigated such genetic constraints to adaptation in the invasive brown anole (Anolis sagrei)—a tropical ectotherm that was introduced to the southeastern United States, a region with a much colder climate than in its native Caribbean range. We examined thermal physiology for 30 invasive populations and tested for a climatic cline in cold tolerance. Also, we used genomics to identify mechanisms that may limit adaptation. We found no support for a climatic cline, indicating that thermal tolerance did not shift adaptively. Concomitantly, population genomic results were consistent with the occurrence of recombination cold spots that comprise more than half of the genome and maintain long‐range associations among alleles in invasive populations. These genomic regions overlap with both candidate thermal tolerance loci that we identified using a standard genome‐wide association test. Moreover, we found that recombination cold spots do not have a large contribution to population differentiation in the invasive range, contrary to observations in the native range. We suggest that limited recombination is constraining the contribution of large swaths of the genome to adaptation in invasive brown anoles. Our study provides an example of evolutionary stasis during invasion and highlights the possibility that reduced recombination occasionally slows down adaptation in invasive populations.

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Molecular Ecology
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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