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Oecologia. 2003 Dec;137(4):617-20. Epub 2003 Oct 8.

Founder population size and number of source populations enhance colonization success in waterstriders.

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  • 1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland.


Understanding the factors that underlie colonization success is crucial both for ecological theory and conservation practices. The most effective way to assess colonization ability is to introduce experimentally different sets of individuals in empty patches of suitable habitat and to monitor the outcome. We translocated mated female waterstriders, Aquarius najas, into 90 streams that were not currently inhabited by the species. We manipulated sizes of propagules (from 2 to 16 mated females) and numbers of origin populations (one or two). Three origin populations were genetically different from each other, but they were less than 150 km from the streams of translocation. The results demonstrate clearly that both the larger propagule size and the high number of source populations have positive effects on the probability of colonizing a new stream. Thus, in addition to the stochastic factors related to the propagule size it may be essential to consider also the diversity of genetic origin for colonization success.

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