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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26874. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026874. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

High genetic diversity despite the potential for stepping-stone colonizations in an invasive species of gecko on Moorea, French Polynesia.

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  • 1Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.


Invasive species often have reduced genetic diversity, but the opposite can be true if there have been multiple introductions and genetic admixture. Reduced diversity is most likely soon after establishment, in remote locations, when there is lower propagule pressure and with stepping-stone colonizations. The common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) was introduced to Moorea, French Polynesia in the remote eastern Pacific within the last two decades and accordingly is expected to exhibit low diversity. In contrast, we show that H. frenatus on Moorea has exceptionally high genetic diversity, similar to that near the native range in Asia and much higher than reported for other Pacific island reptiles. The high diversity in this recently founded population likely reflects extensive genetic admixture in source population(s) and a life history that promotes retention of diversity. These observations point to the importance of understanding range-wide dynamics of genetic admixture in highly invasive species.

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