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Science. 2007 Dec 14;318(5857):1769-72. Epub 2007 Nov 8.

Asymmetric mating interactions drive widespread invasion and displacement in a whitefly.

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Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029, China.


The role of behavioral mechanisms in animal invasions is poorly understood. We show that asymmetric mating interactions between closely related but previously allopatric genetic groups of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, a haplodiploid species, have been a driving force contributing to widespread invasion and displacement by alien populations. We conducted long-term field surveys, caged population experiments, and detailed behavioral observations in Zhejiang, China, and Queensland, Australia, to investigate the invasion process and its underlying behavioral mechanisms. During invasion and displacement, we found increased frequency of copulation leading to increased production of female progeny among the invader, as well as reduced copulation and female production in the indigenous genetic groups. Such asymmetric mating interactions may be critical to determining the capacity of a haplodiploid invader and the consequences for its closely related indigenous organisms.

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