Reinforcement in the banded darter Etheostoma zonale: The effect of sex and sympatry on preferences
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Type of Work14 pages
Citation of Original PublicationRoberts, Natalie S.; Mendelson, Tamra C.; Reinforcement in the banded darter Etheostoma zonale: The effect of sex and sympatry on preferences; Ecology and Evolution 10(5), pages 2499-2512 (2020); https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.6076
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Reinforcement occurs when selection against hybrid offspring strengthens behavioral isolation between parental species and may be an important factor in speciation. Theoretical models and experimental evidence indicate that both female and male preferences can be strengthened upon secondary contact via reinforcement. However, the question remains whether this process is more likely to affect the preferences of one sex or the other. Males of polygynous species are often predicted to exhibit weaker preferences than females, potentially limiting the ability for reinforcement to shape male preferences. Yet, in darters (Percidae: Etheostoma), male preference for conspecific mates appears to arise before female preferences during the early stages of allopatric speciation, and research suggests that male, but not female, preferences become reinforced upon secondary contact. In the current study, we aimed to determine whether the geographically widespread darter species Etheostoma zonale exhibits a signature of reinforcement, by comparing the strength of preference for conspecific mates between populations that are sympatric and allopatric with respect to a close congener, E. barrenense. We examined the strength of preference for conspecifics for males and females separately to determine whether the preferences of one or both sexes have been strengthened by reinforcement. Our results show that both sexes of E. zonale from sympatric populations exhibit stronger conspecific preferences than E. zonale from allopatric populations, but that female preferences appear to be more strongly reinforced than male preferences. Results therefore suggest that reinforcement of female preferences may promote behavioral isolation upon secondary contact, even in a genus that is characterized by pervasive male mate choice.
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