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From hybrid swarms to swarms of hybrids

January 1, 2015

Science has shown that the introgression or hybridization of modern humans (Homo sapiens) with Neanderthals up to 40,000 YBP may have led to the swarm of modern humans on earth. However, there is little doubt that modern trade and transportation in support of the humans has continued to introduce additional species, genotypes, and hybrids to every country on the globe. We assessed the utility of species distributions modeling of genotypes to assess the risk of current and future invaders. We evaluated 93 locations of the genus Tamarix for which genetic data were available. Maxent models of habitat suitability showed that the hybrid, T. ramosissima x T. chinensis, was slightly greater than the parent taxa (AUCs > 0.83). General linear models of Africanized honey bees, a hybrid cross of Tanzanian Apis mellifera scutellata and a variety of European honey bee including A. m. ligustica, showed that the Africanized bees (AUC = 0.81) may be displacing European honey bees (AUC > 0.76) over large areas of the southwestern U.S. More important, Maxent modeling of sub-populations (A1 and A26 mitotypes based on mDNA) could be accurately modeled (AUC > 0.9), and they responded differently to environmental drivers. This suggests that rapid evolutionary change may be underway in the Africanized bees, allowing the bees to spread into new areas and extending their total range. Protecting native species and ecosystems may benefit from risk maps of harmful invasive species, hybrids, and genotypes.