Sex chromosome linkage of mate preference and color signal maintains assortative mating between interbreeding finch morphs

Sarah R. Pryke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Assortative mating is a key aspect in the speciation process because it is important for both initial divergence and maintenance of distinct species. However, it remains a challenge to explain how assortative mating evolves when diverging populations are undergoing gene flow (e.g., during hybridization). Here I experimentally test how assortative mating is maintained with frequent gene flow between diverged head-color morphs of the Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae). Contrary to the predominant view on the development of sexual preferences in birds, cross-fostered offspring did not imprint on the phenotype of their conspecific (red or black morphs) or heterospecific (Bengalese finch) foster parents. Instead, the mating preferences of F1 and F2 intermorph-hybrids are consistent with inheritance on the Z chromosomes, which are also the location for genes controlling color expression and the genes causing low fitness of intermorph-hybrids. Genetic associations between color signal and preference loci on the sex chromosomes may prevent recombination from breaking down these associations when the morphs interbreed, helping to maintain assortative mating in the face of gene flow. Although sex linkage of reproductively isolating traits is theoretically expected to promote speciation, social and ecological constraints may enforce frequent interbreeding between the morphs, thus preventing complete reproductive isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1301-1310
Number of pages10
JournalEvolution
Volume64
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

Keywords

  • Assortative mating
  • Gouldian finches
  • Reproductive isolation
  • Sex chromosomes
  • Sexual imprinting

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