On Domestication and Feralization: re-rethinking invasive species from a genetic perspective
The new wild is an attractive concept recently synthesized by Fred Pearce, which in essence states that we have vilified invasives and have spent tremendous effort in eradicating them, often with limited success. But we were the ones to bring them there in the first place! Such issues spawn from the static nature of the biological species concept and our lack of understanding of the theories underlying selection, adaptation and the dynamic nature of the environment. In a recent Nature News Feature, Ewen Callaway elegantly describes preliminary data from the feral population of chickens from Kauai that exemplify my point. Feral chickens have adapted to their new environment in part due to introgression of domesticated genes into the feral gene pool. Selection is thus able to draw from disparate gene pools in order to result in a temporally optimal phenotype. This implies that the concept of genetic pollution should be extended to include genetic enhancement, particularly within the framework of our dynamic environment in the anthropocene. The dynamic nature of our climate will alter selective pressure, and the presence of an "invasive" gene in the pool of "natives" may well be a recipe for survival in the new wild.
Attachment: Feralization.pages.pdf (2.59 MB)