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Spatial variation in gene flow across a hybrid zone reveals causes of reproductive isolation and asymmetric introgression in wall lizards

  • Weizhao Yang
  • Nathalie Feiner
  • Hanna Laakkonen
  • Roberto Sacchi
  • Marco A.L. Zuffi
  • Stefano Scali
  • Geoffrey M. While
  • Tobias Uller
Publishing year: 2020-05-12
Language: English
Publication/Series: Evolution
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Hybrid zones provide insights into the evolution of reproductive isolation. Sexual selection can contribute to the evolution of reproductive barriers, but it remains poorly understood how sexual traits impact gene flow in secondary contact. Here, we show that a recently evolved suite of sexual traits that function in male-male competition mediates gene flow between two lineages of wall lizards (Podarcis muralis). Gene flow was relatively low and asymmetric in the presence of exaggerated male morphology and coloration compared to when the lineages share the ancestral phenotype. Putative barrier loci were enriched in genomic regions that were highly differentiated between the two lineages and showed low concordance between the transects. The exception was a consistently low genetic exchange around ATXN1, a gene that modulates social behavior. We suggest that this gene may contribute to the male mate preferences that are known to cause lineage-assortative mating in this species. Although female choice modulates the degree of reproductive isolation in a variety of taxa, wall lizards demonstrate that both male-male competition and male mate choice can contribute to the extent of gene flow between lineages.


  • Evolutionary Biology
  • barrier loci
  • genomic cline analysis
  • hybrid zone
  • introgression
  • Podarcis muralis
  • sexual selection


  • ISSN: 0014-3820