3 years ago

Behavioural mechanisms of reproductive isolation between two hybridizing dung fly species

Characterization of the phenotypic differentiation and genetic basis of traits that can contribute to reproductive isolation is an important avenue to understand the mechanisms of speciation. We quantified the degree of prezygotic isolation and geographical variation in mating behaviour among four populations of Sepsis neocynipsea that occur in allopatry, parapatry or sympatry with four populations of its sister species Sepsis cynipsea. To obtain insights into the quantitative genetic basis and the role of selection against hybrid phenotypes we also investigated mating behaviour of F1 hybrid offspring and corresponding backcrosses with the parental populations. Our study documents successful hybridization under laboratory conditions, with low copulation frequencies in heterospecific pairings but higher frequencies in pairings of F1 hybrids signifying hybrid vigour. Analyses of F1 offspring and their parental backcrosses provided little evidence for sexual selection against hybrids. Longer copulation latencies in heterospecific pairings indicate species recognition, probably due to surface or volatile chemicals. The frequency of male mating attempts did not differ greatly between species or hybrid pairings, suggesting no male discrimination of mating partners. Female shaking duration, signifying female choice and/or reluctance to mate, differed strongly between the species and appears to contribute to avoiding heterospecific males; this trait is partially maternal inherited. Importantly, females of both species discriminated more strongly against males in areas of sympatry than allopatry indicating reinforcement. Shorter copulations in heterospecific parental pairings and longer copulations in F1 hybrids suggest mechanistic difficulties with sperm transfer. Overall, our study highlights an important role of character displacement affecting mating behaviour of hybridizing sepsid species in geographical areas of coexistence.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0003347217302579

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