Rapid reshaping: the evolution of morphological changes in an introduced beach daisy

Claire R. Brandenburger, William B. Sherwin, Stephanie M. Creer, Robert Buitenwerf, Alistair G. B. Poore, Richard Frankham, Patrick B. Finnerty, Angela T. Moles*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Thousands of species have been introduced to new ranges worldwide. These introductions provide opportunities for researchers to study evolutionary changes in form and function in response to new environmental conditions. However, almost all previous studies of morphological change in introduced species have compared introduced populations to populations from across the species' native range, so variation within native ranges probably confounds estimates of evolutionary change. In this study, we used micro-satellites to locate the source population for the beach daisy Arctotheca populifolia that had been introduced to eastern Australia. We then compared four introduced populations from Australia with their original South African source population in a common-environment experiment. Despite being separated for less than 100 years, source and introduced populations of A. populifolia display substantial heritable morphological differences. Contrary to the evolution of increased competitive ability hypothesis, introduced plants were shorter than source plants, and introduced and source plants did not differ in total biomass. Contrary to predictions based on higher rainfall in the introduced range, introduced plants had smaller, thicker leaves than source plants. Finally, while source plants develop lobed adult leaves, introduced plants retain their spathulate juvenile leaf shape into adulthood. These changes indicate that rapid evolution in introduced species happens, but not always in the direction predicted by theory.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20181713
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1897
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2019


    • common-garden experiment
    • evolution of increased competitive ability
    • neoteny
    • paedomorphosis
    • plant traits
    • rapid evolution
    • Rapid evolution
    • Neoteny
    • Paedomorphosis
    • Plant traits
    • Common-garden experiment
    • Evolution of increased competitive ability


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