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Naturwissenschaften. 2010 Aug;97(8):769-74. doi: 10.1007/s00114-010-0691-x. Epub 2010 Jun 24.

Complementary effect of natural and sexual selection against immigrants maintains differentiation between locally adapted fish.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, J.W. Goethe University of Frankfurt, Siesmayerstrasse 70a, 60054, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. mplath@bio.uni-frankfurt.de


Adaptation to ecologically heterogeneous environments can drive speciation. But what mechanisms maintain reproductive isolation among locally adapted populations? Using poeciliid fishes in a system with naturally occurring toxic hydrogen sulfide, we show that (a) fish from non-sulfidic sites (Poecilia mexicana) show high mortality (95 %) after 24 h when exposed to the toxicant, while locally adapted fish from sulfidic sites (Poecilia sulphuraria) experience low mortality (13 %) when transferred to non-sulfidic water. (b) Mate choice tests revealed that P. mexicana females exhibit a preference for conspecific males in non-sulfidic water, but not in sulfidic water, whereas P. sulphuraria females never showed a preference. Increased costs of mate choice in sulfidic, hypoxic water, and the lack of selection for reinforcement due to the low survival of P. mexicana may explain the absence of a preference in P. sulphuraria females. Taken together, our study may be the first to demonstrate independent-but complementary-effects of natural and sexual selection against immigrants maintaining differentiation between locally adapted fish populations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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