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Heredity (Edinb). 1999 Nov;83 ( Pt 5):503-8.

Reinforcement and other consequences of sympatry.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


The pattern of greater species mating discrimination between sympatric taxa than between allopatric taxa has been attributed to the strengthening of mate discrimination to avoid maladaptive hybridization. This process, termed reinforcement, has been highly contentious, particularly with regard to its role in speciation. Here, I review some recent studies of reinforcement, discuss alternative explanations for the pattern of greater species discrimination in sympatric taxa, and point to some new directions that may help to clarify the evolutionary forces involved. In particular, we need more ecological work on putative cases of reinforcement, more theoretical models that give diagnostic predictions of reinforcement relative to other modes of divergence, and empirical studies to evaluate these diagnostic predictions.

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