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Linking intra- and interspecific assortative mating : Consequences for asymmetric sexual isolation

  • Erik I. Svensson
  • Anna Nordén
  • John T. Waller
  • Anna Runemark
Publishing year: 2016-06-01
Language: English
Pages: 1165-1179
Publication/Series: Evolution
Volume: 70
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Assortative mating is of interest because of its role in speciation and the maintenance of species boundaries. However, we know little about how within-species assortment is related to interspecific sexual isolation. Most previous studies of assortative mating have focused on a single trait in males and females, rather than utilizing multivariate trait information. Here, we investigate how intraspecific assortative mating relates to sexual isolation in two sympatric and congeneric damselfly species (genus Calopteryx). We connect intraspecific assortment to interspecific sexual isolation by combining field observations, mate preference experiments, and enforced copulation experiments. Using canonical correlation analysis, we demonstrate multivariate intraspecific assortment for body size and body shape. Males of the smaller species mate more frequently with heterospecific females than males of the larger species, which showed less attraction to small heterospecific females. Field experiments suggest that sexual isolation asymmetry is caused by male preferences for large heterospecific females, rather than by mechanical isolation due to interspecific size differences or female preferences for large males. Male preferences for large females and male–male competition for high quality females can therefore counteract sexual isolation. This sexual isolation asymmetry indicates that sexual selection currently opposes a species boundary.


  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Behavior
  • competition
  • hybridization
  • reproductive isolation
  • selection
  • sexual
  • speciation


  • ISSN: 0014-3820
Anna Nordén
E-mail: anna [dot] norden [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Doctoral student

Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 43 16