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Male behaviour drives assortative reproduction during the initial stage of secondary contact.

  • Robert J P Heathcote
  • Geoffrey M While
  • Hannah E A MacGregor
  • James Sciberras
  • Chloé Leroy
  • Patrizia D'Ettorre
  • Tobias Uller
Publishing year: 2016-02-05
Language: English
Pages: 1003-1015
Publication/Series: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume: 29
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Abstract english

Phenotypic divergence in allopatry can facilitate speciation by reducing the likelihood that individuals of different lineages hybridise during secondary contact. However, few studies have established the causes of reproductive isolation in the crucial early stages of secondary contact. Here we establish behavioural causes of assortative reproduction between two phenotypically divergent lineages of the European wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), which have recently come into secondary contact. Parentage was highly assortative in experimental contact zones. However, despite pronounced divergence in male phenotypes, including chemical and visual sexual signals, there was no evidence that females discriminated between males of the two lineages in staged interactions or under naturalistic free-ranging conditions. Instead, assortative reproduction was driven by male mate preferences and, to a lesser extent, male-male competition. The effects were more pronounced when the habitat structure promoted high lizard densities. These results emphasize that assortative reproduction can occur in the absence of female choice, and that male behaviour may play an important role in limiting hybridisation during the initial stages of secondary contact. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


  • Evolutionary Biology


  • ISSN: 1420-9101
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at]


Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour


Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)