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Nature. 2005 Oct 27;437(7063):1353-6.

Reinforcement drives rapid allopatric speciation.

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School of Integrative Biology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Allopatric speciation results from geographic isolation between populations. In the absence of gene flow, reproductive isolation arises gradually and incidentally as a result of mutation, genetic drift and the indirect effects of natural selection driving local adaptation. In contrast, speciation by reinforcement is driven directly by natural selection against maladaptive hybridization. This gives individuals that choose the traits of their own lineage greater fitness, potentially leading to rapid speciation between the lineages. Reinforcing natural selection on a population of one of the lineages in a mosaic contact zone could also result in divergence of the population from the allopatric range of its own lineage outside the zone. Here we test this with molecular data, experimental crosses, field measurements and mate choice experiments in a mosaic contact zone between two lineages of a rainforest frog. We show that reinforcing natural selection has resulted in significant premating isolation of a population in the contact zone not only from the other lineage but also, incidentally, from the closely related main range of its own lineage. Thus we show the potential for reinforcement to drive rapid allopatric speciation.

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