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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 16, 1994; 91(17): 7990–7994.

Host fidelity is an effective premating barrier between sympatric races of the apple maggot fly.


Models of sympatric speciation for phytophagous insects posit a central role for host plant-associated mating as a premating isolating mechanism in lieu of geographic barriers to gene flow. Here, by means of three mark-and-recapture studies, we confirm that host fidelity (i.e., the tendency of an insect to reproduce on the same host species that it used in earlier life-history stages) restricts gene flow between sympatric apple- and hawthorn-infesting races of Rhagoletis pomonella (Diptera: Tephritidae) to approximately 6% per generation. Genetically based differences in host preference, adult eclosion under the "correct" host species, and allochronic isolation contribute to host fidelity in various degrees in the races. The results verify that host-associated adaptation can produce reproductive isolation as a correlated character (a key premise of sympatric speciation). The study also represents one of the few or perhaps only example in animals where the intra-specific isolating effects of specific phenotypes have been quantified in nature.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Prokopy RJ, Averill AL, Cooley SS, Roitberg CA. Associative learning in egglaying site selection by apple maggot flies. Science. 1982 Oct 1;218(4567):76–77. [PubMed]
  • Wood TK, Guttman SI. Enchenopa binotata Complex: Sympatric Speciation? Science. 1983 Apr 15;220(4594):310–312. [PubMed]

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