establishing small founding populations

SHORT QUESTION:

An invasive species has been spreading across the country by establishing small founding populations beyond the species’ current range. These founding populations normally increase in number to become well established before themselves producing sufficient emigrants to form new founding populations.

Researchers are studying the population genetics of this invasive species at a well-established founding population (at the edge of the species’ range) and in the core of the species’ range (close to where the species was first seen in the country). They have found several loci with alleles at high frequency in the founding population. These same alleles are rare, and therefore at low frequency, in the core of the species’ range. The researchers hypothesise that:

1. evolution is occurring as this invasive species expands its range

2. the high frequency alleles in the founding population have been under positive selection.

Debate whether the researcher’s hypotheses are consistent with our understanding of evolution. In your answer you should discuss possible alternative hypotheses and relate these to the forces of evolution.

Maximum word count: 1000 words

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