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Keywords:

  • Admixture;
  • behavior;
  • ecological speciation;
  • insect-plant interactions;
  • phenology

Abstract

Speciation is an important evolutionary process that occurs when barriers to gene flow evolve between previously panmictic populations. Although individual barriers to gene flow have been studied extensively, we know relatively little regarding the number of barriers that isolate species or whether these barriers are polymorphic within species. Herein, we use a series of field and lab experiments to quantify phenotypic divergence and identify possible barriers to gene flow between the butterfly species Lycaeides idas and Lycaeides melissa. We found evidence that L. idas and L. melissa have diverged along multiple phenotypic axes. Specifically, we identified major phenotypic differences in female oviposition preference and diapause initiation, and more moderate divergence in mate preference. Multiple phenotypic differences might operate as barriers to gene flow, as shown by correlations between genetic distance and phenotypic divergence and patterns of phenotypic variation in admixed Lycaeides populations. Although some of these traits differed primarily between species (e.g., diapause initiation), several traits also varied among conspecific populations (e.g., male mate preference and oviposition preference).