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Are assortative mating and genital divergence driven by reinforcement?

  • Johan Hollander
  • Mauricio Montaño-Rendón
  • Giuseppe Bianco
  • Xi Yang
  • Anja M Westram
  • Ludovic Duvaux
  • David G Reid
  • Roger K Butlin
Publishing year: 2018-10-16
Language: English
Pages: 557-566
Publication/Series: Evolution letters
Volume: 2
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article

Abstract english

The evolution of assortative mating is a key part of the speciation process. Stronger assortment, or greater divergence in mating traits, between species pairs with overlapping ranges is commonly observed, but possible causes of this pattern of reproductive character displacement are difficult to distinguish. We use a multidisciplinary approach to provide a rare example where it is possible to distinguish among hypotheses concerning the evolution of reproductive character displacement. We build on an earlier comparative analysis that illustrated a strong pattern of greater divergence in penis form between pairs of sister species with overlapping ranges than between allopatric sister-species pairs, in a large clade of marine gastropods (Littorinidae). We investigate both assortative mating and divergence in male genitalia in one of the sister-species pairs, discriminating among three contrasting processes each of which can generate a pattern of reproductive character displacement: reinforcement, reproductive interference and the Templeton effect. We demonstrate reproductive character displacement in assortative mating, but not in genital form between this pair of sister species and use demographic models to distinguish among the different processes. Our results support a model with no gene flow since secondary contact and thus favor reproductive interference as the cause of reproductive character displacement for mate choice, rather than reinforcement. High gene flow within species argues against the Templeton effect. Secondary contact appears to have had little impact on genital divergence.


  • Evolutionary Biology


  • ISSN: 2056-3744
Johan Hollander
E-mail: johan [dot] hollander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Division aquatic ecology

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Aquatic Ecology