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Genetica. 2002 Nov;116(2-3):291-300.

Divergence and reproductive isolation in the early stages of speciation.

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  • Ecology and Evolution Group, School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK. T.Tregenza@leeds.ac.uk


To understand speciation we need to identify the factors causing divergence between natural populations. The traditional approach to gaining such insights has been to focus on a particular theory and ask whether observed patterns of reproductive isolation between populations or species are consistent with the hypothesis in question. However, such studies are few and they do not allow us to compare between hypotheses, so often we cannot determine the relative contribution to divergence of different potential factors. Here, I describe a study of patterns of phenotypic divergence and premating and postmating isolation between populations of the grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus. Information on the phylogeographic relationships of the populations means that a priori predictions from existing hypotheses for the evolution of reproductive isolation can be compared with observations. I assess the relative contributions to premating isolation, postmating isolation and phenotypic divergence of long periods of allopatry, adaptation to different environments and processes associated with colonisation (such as population bottlenecks). Likelihood analysis reveals that long periods of allopatry in glacial refugia are associated with postmating reproductive isolation, but not premating isolation, which is more strongly associated with colonisation. Neither premating nor postmating isolation is higher between populations differing in potential environmental selection pressures. There are only weak correlations between patterns of genetic divergence and phenotypic divergence and no correlation between premating and postmating isolation. This suggests that the potential of a taxon to exercise mate choice may affect the types of factor that promote speciation in that group. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the general approach of simultaneously testing competing hypotheses for the evolution of reproductive isolation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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