Abstracts (first author)
Epigenetic inheritance in invasive species
Epigenetic variation is one causal mechanism for phenotypic variation, and epigenetic rearrangements are thought to be involved in many cases of adaptive phenotypic plasticity. In environments that are temporally autocorrelated the phenotype of successfully reproducing individuals, and thus their epigenetic state, is predictive of the selective environment that will face their offspring. Some degree of epigenetic inheritance may therefore be beneficial in variable environments. Assuming that transmission of epigenetic markers is under genetic control we develop a model to explore the patterns of epigenetic inheritance in an organism that invades previously uncolonized and spatially variable areas. We find that the optimal degree of epigenetic inheritance does indeed vary across the invasion front: epigenetic transmission tends to be less faithful at the front than in areas that have been colonized for longer, where more stable epialleles may be the norm. We relate our results to the spatial structure of the environment and the dispersal kernel of the organism.