A BIOGEOGRAPHIC GENETIC APPROACH FOR TESTING THE ROLE OF REINFORCEMENT: THE CASE OF DROSOPHILA PSEUDOOBSCURA AND D. PERSIMILIS Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The role of reinforcement in speciation can be explained by two distinct models. In model I, two diverged populations hybridize and produce fertile hybrids that successfully backcross (hybridization with gene flow). In model II, two populations hybridize but succeeding backcrosses are unproductive (hybridization without gene flow). Using Drosophila persimilis and D. pseudoobscura, we have tested model I by comparing the extent of heterospecific introgression in sympatric versus allopatric populations. We show that certain expectations of this particular model of reinforcement, which is based on hybridization and gene flow between divergent populations after secondary contact, are not realized in these two species. The evidence consists of the similarity of genetic distances as well as proportions of unique/rare alleles between sympatric and allopatric heterospecific populations and a negative correlation between genetic distance and geographical distance between heterospecific populations, which suggests ecological differentiation. This approach in quantifying differential gene flow has important consequences to studies that compare sympatric and allopatric isolation using genetic distance. Following model I, one would expect a pattern of higher prezygotic isolation in sympatric species compared to allopatric species of the same genetic distance simply as a result of an underestimation of genetic distance due to introgression between sympatric populations. We suggest more parsimonious explanations such as reinforcement without genetic exchange (model II) and ecological differentiation, which require high levels of preexisting reproductive isolation between populations.

publication date

  • February 2000