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Outcomes of reciprocal invasions between genetically diverse and genetically uniform populations of Daphnia obtusa (Kurz)

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Ecological theory predicts that genetic variation produced by sexual reproduction results in niche diversification and provides a competitive advantage both to facilitate invasion into genetically uniform asexual populations and to withstand invasion by asexual competitors. We tested the hypothesis that a large group of diverse clones of Daphnia obtusa has greater competitive advantage when invading into genetically uniform populations of this species than a smaller group with inherently less genetic diversity. We compared competitive outcomes to those of genetically uniform groups of small and large size invading into genetically diverse populations. Genetically diverse invaders of initially large group size increased their representation by more than those of initially small size; in contrast, genetically uniform invaders of initially large group size diminished on average by more than those of initially small size. These results demonstrate an advantage to the genetic variation produced by sexual reproduction, both in invasion and resisting invasion, which we attribute to competitive release experienced by individuals in genetically diverse populations.

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The authors thank S.J. Hawkins, L.W. Beukeboom and C.K. Kelly for comments on earlier drafts. NT and CPD acknowledge support from the UK Natural Environment Research Council, and DJI from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada). The experiments described in this study comply with the current laws of the UK.

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Correspondence to C. P. Doncaster.

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Communicated by Roland Brandl

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Tagg, N., Innes, D.J. & Doncaster, C.P. Outcomes of reciprocal invasions between genetically diverse and genetically uniform populations of Daphnia obtusa (Kurz). Oecologia 143, 527–536 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-005-0016-5

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  • Cost of males
  • Cost of sex
  • Density dependence
  • Niche breadth