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Genetics. 2005 Oct;171(2):655-62. Epub 2005 Jun 21.

Premating, not postmating, barriers drive genetic dynamics in experimental hybrid populations of the endangered Sonoran topminnow.

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School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, 82587-4501, USA.


The timing and pattern of reproductive barrier formation in allopatric populations has received much less attention than the accumulation of reproductive barriers in sympatry. The theory of allopatric speciation suggests that reproductive barriers evolve simply as by-products of overall genetic divergence. However, observations of enhanced premating barriers in allopatric populations suggest that sexual selection driven by intraspecific competition for mates may enhance species-specific signals and accelerate the speciation process. In a previous series of laboratory trials, we examined the strength of premating and postmating barriers in an allopatric species pair of the endangered Sonoran topminnow, Poeciliopsis occidentalis and P. sonoriensis. Behavioral observations provided evidence of asymmetrical assortative mating, while reduced brood sizes and male-biased F(1) sex ratios suggest postmating incompatibilities. Here we examine the combined effects of premating and postmating barriers on the genetic makeup of mixed populations, using cytonuclear genotype frequencies of first- and second-generation offspring. Observed genotype frequencies strongly reflect the directional assortative mating observed in behavioral trials, illustrating how isolating barriers that act earlier in the reproductive cycle will have a greater effect on total reproductive isolation and may be more important to speciation than subsequent postmating reproductive barriers.

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