The tails of two invasive species: genetic responses to acute and chronic bottlenecks

Fernanda Gatto de Almeida* (Corresponding Author), Florian Pichlmueller, Thomas Bodey, Araceli Samaniego, James C. Russell* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Genetic diversity can affect population viability and can be reduced by both acute and chronic mechanisms. Using the history of the establishment and management of two invasive rat species on Tetiaroa atoll, French Polynesia, we investigated the intensity and longevity of contrasting population bottleneck mechanisms on genetic diversity and bottleneck signal. Using microsatellite loci we show how both a chronic reduction over approximately 50 years of a Rattus exulans population caused by the arrival of its competitor R. rattus, and an acute reduction in a R. rattus population caused by a failed eradication approximately 10 years ago, caused similar magnitudes of genetic diversity loss. Furthermore, these strong bottleneck signals were in addition to the lasting signal from initial colonisation by each species many decades to centuries earlier, characterising a genetic paradox of biological invasion. These findings have implications for the study of population genetics of invasive species, and underscore how important historical context of population dynamics is when interpreting snapshots of genetic diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3263-3273
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number10
Early online date2 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Thanks to the Tetiaroa Society and The Brando resort for facilitating research on Tetiaroa atoll for the past decade, especially Neil Davies, Frank Murphy, Nicolas Leclerc and Moana Le Rohellec.

Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its institutions. FGA was funded by Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology CAPES (Grant No. 88881.189218/2018-01), FP was funded by NZ BioHeritage National Science Challenge (Grant No. 1617-44-033), TWB was funded by European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship (Grant No. 747120), AS was funded by Island Conservation and RSPB, JCR was funded by FRST NZ S&T postdoctoral fellowship (Grant No. UCAL 0801).

Data Availability Statement

The microsatellite data file is available in the Figshare digital repository and can be accessed at:


  • Rattus exulans
  • Rattus rattus
  • Genetic paradox
  • Genetic diversity
  • Competition
  • Microsatellites


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