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Kin competition accelerates experimental range expansion in an arthropod herbivore

By Katrien Van Petegem, Felix Moerman, Maxime Dahirel, Emanuel A. Fronhofer, Martijn L. Vandegehuchte, Thomas Van Leeuwen, Nicky Wybouw, Robby Stoks, Dries Bonte

Posted 14 Jun 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/150011 (published DOI: 10.1111/ele.12887)

With ongoing global change, life is continuously forced to move to novel areas, which leads to dynamically changing species ranges. As dispersal is central to range dynamics, factors promoting fast and distant dispersal are key to understanding and predicting species ranges. During range expansions, genetic variation is depleted at the expanding front. Such conditions should reduce evolutionary potential, while increasing kin competition. Organisms able to recognise relatives may be able to assess increased levels of relatedness at expanding range margins and to increase their dispersal in a plastic manner. Using individual-based simulations and experimental range expansions of a spider mite, we demonstrate that plastic responses to kin structure can be at least as important as evolution in driving range expansion speed. Because recognition of kin or kind is increasingly documented across the tree of life, we anticipate it to be a highly important but neglected driver of range expansions.

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