Non-random gene flow: an underappreciated force in evolution and ecology

Trends Ecol Evol. 2012 Dec;27(12):659-65. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.07.009. Epub 2012 Aug 10.


Dispersal is an important life-history trait involved in species persistence, evolution, and diversification, yet is one of the least understood concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology. There is a growing realization that dispersal might not involve the random sample of genotypes as is typically assumed, but instead can be enriched for certain genotypes. Here, we review and compare various sources of such non-random gene flow, and summarize its effects on local adaptation and resource use, metapopulation dynamics, adaptation to climate change, biological invasion, and speciation. Given the possible ubiquity and impacts of non-random gene flow, there is an urgent need for the fields of evolution and ecology to test for non-random gene flow and to more fully incorporate its effects into theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Anticipation, Genetic
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Demography
  • Ecosystem*
  • Gene Flow / genetics*
  • Genetic Speciation
  • Genomics
  • Selection, Genetic