Time in a bottle: The evolutionary fate of species discrimination in sibling Drosophila species

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Disadvantageous hybridization favors the evolution of prezygotic isolating behaviors, generating a geographic pattern of interspecific mate discrimination where members of different species drawn from sympatric populations exhibit stronger preference for members of their own species than do individuals drawn from allopatric populations. Geographic shifts in species' boundaries can relax local selection against hybridization; under such scenarios the fate of enhanced species preference is unknown. Lineages established from populations in the region of sympatry that have been maintained as single-species laboratory cultures represent cases where allopatry has been produced experimentally. Using such cultures dating from the 1950s, we assess how Drosophila pseudoobscura and D. persimilis mate preferences respond to relaxed natural selection against hybridization. We found that the propensity to hybridize generally declines with increasing time in experimental allopatry, suggesting that maintaining enhanced preference for conspecifics may be costly. However, our data also suggest a strong role for drift in determining mating preferences once secondary allopatry has been established. Finally, we discuss the interplay between populations in establishing the presence or absence of patterns consistent with reinforcement.




Myers, E. M., & Frankino, W. A. (2012). Time in a bottle: The evolutionary fate of species discrimination in sibling Drosophila species. PLoS ONE, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031759

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