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J Evol Biol. 2007 May;20(3):854-64.

Direct benefits and costs for hybridizing Ficedula flycatchers.

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  • 1Animal Ecology/Department of Ecology and Evolution, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen, Uppsala, Sweden.


It is well understood that females may gain direct benefits from breeding with attractive males. However, the direct fitness effects of mate-choice are rarely considered with respect to mating between different species (hybridization), a field dominated by discussion of indirect costs of producing unfit hybrid offspring. Hybridizing females may also gain by the types of direct benefits that are important for intraspecific mate choice, and in addition may have access to certain benefits that are restricted to mating with males of an ecologically diverged sister-taxon. We investigate possible direct benefits and costs female Ficedula flycatchers gain from breeding with a heterospecific male, and demonstrate that hybridizing female collared flycatchers (F. albicollis) breed in territories that do not suffer the seasonal decline in habitat quality experienced by females breeding with conspecifics. We exclude the hypotheses that heterospecific males provide alternative food-types or assume a greater amount of the parental workload. In fact, the diets of the two species (F. albicollis and F. hypoleuca) were highly similar, suggesting possible interspecific competition over food resources in sympatry. We discuss the implications of direct fitness effects of hybridization, and why there has been such a disparity in the attention paid to such benefits and costs with regard to intraspecific and interspecific mate-choice.

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