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Evolution of life history and dispersal traits during the range expansion of a biological control agent
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  • Eliza Clark,
  • Ellyn Bitume,
  • Dan Bean,
  • Amanda Stahlke,
  • Paul Hohenlohe,
  • Ruth Hufbauer
Eliza Clark
Colorado State University
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Ellyn Bitume
USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry
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Dan Bean
State of Colorado Department of Agriculture
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Amanda Stahlke
University of Idaho
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Paul Hohenlohe
University of Idaho
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Ruth Hufbauer
Colorado State University
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Abstract

Evolutionary theory predicts that the process of range expansion will lead to differences between core and edge population in life history and dispersal traits. Selection and genetic drift can influence reproductive ability while spatial sorting by dispersal ability can increase dispersal at the edge. However, the context of individuals (e.g., population density and mating status) also impacts dispersal behavior. We evaluated theoretical predictions for evolution of reproductive life history and dispersal traits using the range expansion of a biological control agent, Diorhabda carinulata, or northern tamarisk beetle. We found divergence of fecundity, age at first reproduction, and female body size between core and edge populations. We also show that density and mating status influence dispersal and that dispersal increases at the edge of the range. We demonstrate that theory of evolution during range expansions applies to the range expansion of a biocontrol agent, especially when the ecological context is considered.