Biological Invasions

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 635–644 | Cite as

Adaptive evolution and phenotypic plasticity during naturalization and spread of invasive species: implications for tree invasion biology

  • Rafael Dudeque Zenni
  • Jean-Baptiste Lamy
  • Laurent Jean Lamarque
  • Annabel Josée Porté
Original Paper


Although the genetic aspects of biological invasions are receiving more attention in the scientific literature, analyses of phenotypic plasticity and genotype-by-environment interactions are still seldom considered in tree invasion biology. Previous studies have shown that invasions of tree species can be affected by intraspecific phenotypic plasticity, pre-adaptation, and post-introduction evolution, and we suggest there are opportunities for new developments in this field. Here, we present a description of the use of quantitative and molecular genetics in tree invasion biology, and propose an approach based on common garden experiments, quantitative and molecular genetic methods to investigate the role of adaptive evolution, phenotypic plasticity, and genotype-by-environment interactions in tree invasions, particularly at the infraspecific level. We illustrate the utility of this approach using examples from quantitative genetic studies of Pinus and an example from a classical reciprocal common garden experiment with Acer species. By using this approach, researchers can test hypotheses about the role and strength of genetic and environmental effects on population-level invasiveness and gain insights into evolutionary processes that occur during biological invasions. Moreover, knowledge of phenotypic plasticity and local adaption of tree populations may help researchers improve assessments of invasion risk.


Acer Biological invasions Common garden experiments Genetic differentiation Genotype–environment interactions Phenotypic plasticity Pinus Pre-adaptation Tree invasions 



We thank all the participants of the Tree Invasions workshop for important discussions on the topics explored here and three anonymous reviewers for important suggestions and criticisms. R.D.Z. was supported by The University of Tennessee and CNPQ-Brazil. L.J.L. was supported by a Grant from York University and subsidies from University of Bordeaux, under the supervision of C.J. Lortie and S. Delzon.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael Dudeque Zenni
    • 1
  • Jean-Baptiste Lamy
    • 2
    • 3
  • Laurent Jean Lamarque
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Annabel Josée Porté
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.UMR 1202 BiogecoINRACestasFrance
  3. 3.UMR 1202 BiogecoUniversity of BordeauxTalenceFrance
  4. 4.Department of BiologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  5. 5.UMR BIOGECOUniversité de BordeauxTalence cedexFrance

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