Density-regulated population dynamics and conditional dispersal alter the fate of mutations occurring at the front of an expanding population

T. Muenkemueller, J. M. J. Travis, O. J. Burton, K. Schiffers, K. Johst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


There is an increasing recognition that the interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes shapes the genetic footprint of populations during and after range expansions. However, more complex ecological processes regularly considered within spatial ecology remain unexplored in models describing the population genetics of range expansion. In this study we integrate flexible descriptions of population growth and competition as well as conditional dispersal into a model that simulates the fate of mutations occurring at the wave front of an expanding population. Our results show that the survival and distribution of a mutation is not only affected by its bias (that is, whether it is deleterious, neutral or beneficial) but also by the mode of local density regulation and conditional dispersal of the simulated populations. It is in particular the chance of a mutation to establish at the front of advance and 'surf' to high frequencies that critically depends on the investigated ecological processes. This is because of the influence of these processes on demographic stochasticity in the system and the differential responses of deleterious, neutral and beneficial mutations to this stochasticity. Generally, deleterious mutations rely more on chance and thus profit the most from ecological processes that enhance demographic stochasticity during the period of establishment. Our study emphasizes the importance of incorporating more ecological realism into evolutionary models to better understand the consequences of shifting geographic ranges for the genetic structure of populations and to find efficient adaptation strategies to mitigate these effects. Heredity (2011) 106, 678-689; doi:10.1038/hdy.2010.107; published online 18 August 2010

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-689
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Early online date18 Aug 2010
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • range shifting
  • invasion
  • climate change
  • evolution
  • over-compensation
  • boosted regression tree
  • distance seed dispersal
  • dependent dispersal
  • extinction risk
  • range expansion
  • climate-change
  • fluctuating populations
  • invading organisms
  • genetic diversity
  • change impacts
  • forest trees


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