Immigrants to habitats occupied by conspecific organisms are usually expected to be competitively inferior, because residents may be locally adapted. If residents are inbred, however, mating between immigrants and residents results in offspring that may enjoy a fitness advantage from hybrid vigor. We demonstrate this effect experimentally in a natural Daphnia metapopulation in which genetic bottlenecks and local inbreeding are common. We estimate that in this metapopulation, hybrid vigor amplifies the rate of gene flow several times more than would be predicted from the nominal migration rate. This can affect the persistence of local populations and the entire metapopulation.
American Association for the Advancement of Science