Drosophila subobscura was first identified in North America in the early 1980s, and a newer D. subobscura population in Utah appears to have been established more than 10 years later. In this study, we use nuclear microsatellite allele frequencies, mitochondrial restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) allele frequencies, and computer simulations to investigate possible scenarios of how this species has spread across North America. Our method develops a 95% confidence interval for the maximum and minimum number of founders that could have colonized the new population given various scenarios for spread. Unlike many other methods, it may be applied to nonequilibrium source populations given certain conditions. We find that observed allele frequency differences between newer and older D. subobscura populations are consistent with very few inseminated females being transported east from the coast in a single step or with larger numbers of colonizers invading after several intermediate steps. They are not consistent with a large, panmictic population of D. subobscura colonizing Utah in a single step.
Corresponding Editor: K. Ross