Bridgehead effect and multiple introductions shape the global invasion history of a termite. Academic Article uri icon


  • Native to eastern Asia, the Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus (Shiraki) is recognized as one of the 100 worst invasive pests in the world, with established populations in Japan, Hawaii and the southeastern United States. Despite its importance, the native source(s) of C. formosanus introductions and their invasive pathway out of Asia remain elusive. Using ~22,000 SNPs, we retraced the invasion history of this species through approximate Bayesian computation and assessed the consequences of the invasion on its genetic patterns and demography. We show a complex invasion history, where an initial introduction to Hawaii resulted from two distinct introduction events from eastern Asia and the Hong Kong region. The admixed Hawaiian population subsequently served as the source, through a bridgehead, for one introduction to the southeastern US. A separate introduction event from southcentral China subsequently occurred in Florida showing admixture with the first introduction. Overall, these findings further reinforce the pivotal role of bridgeheads in shaping species distributions in the Anthropocene and illustrate that the global distribution of C. formosanus has been shaped by multiple introductions out of China, which may have prevented and possibly reversed the loss of genetic diversity within its invasive range.

published proceedings

  • Commun Biol

altmetric score

  • 6.2

author list (cited authors)

  • Blumenfeld, A. J., Eyer, P., Husseneder, C., Mo, J., Johnson, L., Wang, C., ... Vargo, E. L.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Blumenfeld, Alexander J||Eyer, Pierre-AndrĂ©||Husseneder, Claudia||Mo, Jianchu||Johnson, Laura NL||Wang, Changlu||Kenneth Grace, J||Chouvenc, Thomas||Wang, Shichen||Vargo, Edward L

publication date

  • January 2021