Hybridization may help, not hinder, colonizing species

How hybridization helps colonizing species estbalish – adapted from Hall, RJ (2016) Hybridization helps colonizers become conquerors. PNAS 113: 9963-9964.

A fascinating new article by Mohsen Megsaran and colleagues, just published in PNAS, sheds light on a new way in which hybridization with previously established species may influence colonization success. The authors develop a simple mathematical model to show that a rare colonizer can overcome Allee effects and exploit the presence of a more common congener to allow colonizer genes to gain a foothold.  Subject to preferential backcrossing of hybrids with colonizer-like genotypes, the colonizing species can reassemble and replace the established species even in the absence of other fitness advantages. Richard worked on modeling hybrid plant invasions several years ago, and was delighted to get an opportunity write a commentary showcasing the article and speculating as to its broader application.