DOI: 10.1093/evolut/qpad236 ISSN: 0014-3820

An experimental test of the evolutionary consequences of sympatry in Drosophila subquinaria

Will M C Jarvis, Nicholas J Arthur, Howard D Rundle, Kelly A Dyer
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Prezygotic isolation is often stronger between sympatric as opposed to allopatric taxa, but the underlying cause can be difficult to infer from comparative studies alone. Experimental evolution, where evolutionary responses to treatments manipulating the presence/absence of heterospecific individuals are tracked, can provide a powerful complementary approach. We used experimental evolution to investigate a naturally occurring pattern of reproductive character displacement in the mushroom-feeding fly, Drosophila subquinaria. In nature, female D. subquinaria from populations sympatric with the closely related D. recens discriminate more strongly against heterospecific males than do females from allopatric populations. Starting with 16 replicate allopatric populations of D. subquinaria, we manipulated the presence/absence of D. recens during mating (experimental sympatry vs. control) and, when present, we allowed hybrids to live or killed them each generation. Across 12 generations, heterospecific offspring production from no-choice mating trials between D. subquinaria females and D. recens males declined in both experimental sympatry treatments relative to the control, suggesting increased sexual isolation. Male cuticular hydrocarbon profiles also evolved, but only in the hybrids killed treatment. Our results strongly imply that the existing reproductive character displacement in wild D. subquinaria populations was an evolutionary response to selection arising from secondary contact with D. recens.

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