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Assortative Mating and the Maintenance of Population Structure in a Natural Hybrid Zone
Zachary W. Culumber, Olivia M. Ochoa and Gil G. Rosenthal
The American Naturalist
Vol. 184, No. 2 (August 2014), pp. 225-232
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/677033
Page Count: 8
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AbstractUnderstanding the factors that give rise to natural hybrid zones and govern their dynamics and structure is important to predicting the evolutionary consequences of hybridization. Here we use a combination of multigenerational population genetic data, mating patterns from a natural population, behavioral assays, and mark-recapture data within clinal hybrid zones of the genus Xiphophorus to test the role of assortative mating in maintaining population structure and the potential for ongoing genetic exchange between heterospecifics. Our data demonstrate that population structure is temporally robust and driven largely by assortative mating stemming from precopulatory isolation between pure species. Furthermore, mark-recapture data revealed that rates of migration within the same stream reach are far below the level needed to support population structure. In contrast to many empirical studies of natural hybrid zones, there appeared to be no hybrid male dysfunction or discrimination against hybrid males by pure parental females, and hybrid females mated and associated with pure species and hybrid males at random. Despite strong isolation between pure parentals, hybrids therefore can act as a conduit for genetic exchange between heterospecifics, which has been shown to increase the tempo of evolutionary change. Additionally, our findings highlight the complexity of natural hybrid zone dynamics, demonstrating that sexual and ecological selection together can give rise to patterns that do not fit classical models of hybrid zone evolution.
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