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Data from: Gene swamping alters evolution during range expansions in the protist Tetrahymena thermophila

Citation

Moerman, Felix; Fronhofer, Emanuel; Wagner, Andreas; Altermatt, Florian (2020), Data from: Gene swamping alters evolution during range expansions in the protist Tetrahymena thermophila, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6wwpzgmtk

Abstract

At species’ range edges, individuals often face novel environmental conditions that may limit range expansion until populations adapt. The potential to adapt depends on genetic variation upon which selection can act. However, populations at species’ range edges are often genetically depauperated. One mechanism to increase genetic variation is to reshuffle existing variation through sex. During range expansions, sex can, however, act as a double-edged sword. The gene swamping hypothesis predicts that for populations expanding along an abiotic gradient, sex can hinder adaptation if asymmetric dispersal leads to numerous maladapted dispersers from the range core swamping the range edge. In this study, we experimentally tested the gene swamping hypothesis by performing replicated range expansions in landscapes with or without an abiotic pH-gradient, using the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, while simultaneously manipulating the occurrence of gene flow and sex. We show that sex accelerated evolution of local adaptation in the absence of gene flow, but hindered it in the presence of gene flow. The effect of sex, however, was independent of the pH-gradient, indicating that not only abiotic gradients but also the biotic gradient in population density leads to gene swamping. Overall, our results show that gene swamping can affect adaptation in life-history strategies.