The introductions and spread of invasive species globally have caused enormous costs to the economy (~ $1 trillion per annum in lost goods and services). Such economic loss is particularly severe in countries that have been highly impacted by invasive species, with estimates for the UK, US and China of US $1 billion, 120 billion and 15 billion, respectively. Alarmingly, however, rates of biological invasions continue to accelerate, thus posing growing and urgent threats to the global environment and economy.
The study of microevolutionary processes in the wild represents one of the major challenges in ecological and evolutionary studies, especially those aiming to reveal genetic bases of microevolution using wild populations. Biological invasions provide good “natural experiments” to deeply dissect processes and mechanisms of rapid microevolution, as invasive species are transported into and subsequently survive different local environments in a short period of time. Consequently, natural selections associated with rapid and/or sudden environmental changes may drive rapid microevolution in different directions during the process of biological invasions.
This proposed section will focus on recent research directions and progress, as well as future perspectives, in the field of microevolution using invasive species as a model. The proposed three internationally recognized well-known experts will focus on different angles of rapid microevolution: Prof. MacIsaac will focus on the ecosystem level, and Prof. Lee will focus on genetics of microevolution.