Spatio-temporal changes in the structure of an australian frog hybrid zone: A 40-year perspective

  • Smith K
  • Hale J
  • Gay L
 et al. 
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Spatio-temporal studies of hybrid zones provide an opportunity to test evolutionary hypotheses of hybrid zone maintenance and movement. We conducted a landscape genetics study on a classic hybrid zone of the south-eastern Australian frogs, Litoria ewingii and Litoria paraewingi. This hybrid zone has been comprehensively studied since the 1960s, providing the unique opportunity to directly assess changes in hybrid zone structure across time. We compared both mtDNA and male advertisement call data from two time periods (present and 1960s). Clinal analysis of the coincidence (same center) and concordance (same width) of these traits indicated that the center of the hybrid zone has shifted 1 km south over the last 40 years, although the width of the zone and the rate of introgression remained unchanged. The low frequency of hybrids, the strong concordance of clines within a time period, and the small but significant movement across the study period despite significant anthropogenic changes through the region, suggest the hybrid zone is a tension zone located within a low-density trough. Hybrid zone movement has not been considered common in the past but our findings highlight that it should be considered a crucial component to our understanding of evolution.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Advertisement call
  • Ancient DNA
  • Cline
  • Historical
  • Hybridization
  • Speciation

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  • Katie L. Smith

  • Joshua M. Hale

  • Laurène Gay

  • Michael Kearney

  • Jeremy J. Austin

  • Kirsten M. Parris

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