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Ecological Speciation in Sticklebacks: Environment-Dependent Hybrid Fitness

Todd Hatfield and Dolph Schluter
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jun., 1999), pp. 866-873
DOI: 10.2307/2640726
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640726
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Ecological Speciation in Sticklebacks: Environment-Dependent Hybrid Fitness
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Abstract

"Ecological" speciation occurs when reproductive isolation evolves as a consequence of divergent selection between populations exploiting different resources or environments. We tested this hypothesis of speciation in a young stickleback species pair by measuring the direct contribution of ecological selection pressures to hybrid fitness. The two species (limnetic and benthic) are strongly differentiated morphologically and ecologically, whereas hybrids are intermediate. Fitness of hybrids is high in the laboratory, especially F1 and F2 hybrids (backcrosses may show some breakdown). We transplanted F1 hybrids to enclosures in the two main habitats in the wild to test whether the distribution of resources available in the environment generates a hybrid disadvantage not detectable in the laboratory. Hybrids grew more slowly than limnetics in the open water habitat and more slowly than benthics in the littoral zone. Growth of F1 hybrids was inferior to the average of the parent species across both habitats, albeit not significantly. The contrast between laboratory and field results supports the hypothesis that mechanisms of F1 hybrid fitness in the wild are primarily ecological and do not result from intrinsic genetic incompatibilities. Direct selection on hybrids contributes to the maintenance of sympatric stickleback species and may have played an important role in their origin.

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