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Keywords:

  • Mate choice;
  • olfaction;
  • premating isolation;
  • reproductive isolation

Abstract

Most animal species use distinctive courship patterns to choose among potential mates. Over time, the sensory signaling and preferences used during courtship can diverge among groups that are reproductively isolated. This divergence of signal traits and preferences is thought to be an important cause of behavioral isolation during the speciation process. Here, we examine the sensory modalities used in courtship by two closely related species, Drosophila subquinaria and Drosophila recens, which overlap in geographic range and are incompletely reproductively isolated. We use observational studies of courtship patterns and manipulation of male and female sensory modalities to determine the relative roles of visual, olfactory, gustatory, and auditory signals during conspecific mate choice. We find that sex-specific, species-specific, and population-specific cues are used during mate acquisition within populations of D. subquinaria and D. recens. We identify shifts in both male and female sensory modalities between species, and also between populations of D. subquinaria. Our results indicate that divergence in mating signals and preferences have occurred on a relatively short timescale within and between these species. Finally, we suggest that because olfactory cues are essential for D. subquinaria females to mate within species, they may also underlie variation in behavioral discrimination across populations and species.