Divergent warning patterns contribute to assortative mating between incipient Heliconius species
Article first published online: 23 FEB 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 7, pages 911–917, April 2014
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2014; 4(7):911–917
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 23 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 24 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 2 DEC 2013
- King's College, Cambridge
- Amgen Scholars summer program
- NERC. Grant Number: NE/K008498/1
- Hanne and Torkel Weis-Fogh Fund
- Behavioral isolation;
- ecological speciation;
- magic traits;
- male preference;
Theoretical models suggest that traits under divergent ecological selection, which also contribute to assortative mating, will facilitate speciation with gene flow. Evidence for these so-called “magic traits” now exists across a range of taxa. However, their importance during speciation will depend on the extent to which they contribute to reproductive isolation. Addressing this requires experiments to determine the exact cues involved as well as estimates of assortative mating in the wild. Heliconius butterflies are well known for their diversity of bright warning color patterns, and their amenability to experimental manipulation has provided an excellent opportunity to test their role in reproductive isolation. Here, we reveal that divergent color patterns contribute to mate recognition between the incipient species Heliconius himera and H. erato, a taxon pair for which assortative mating by color pattern has been demonstrated among wild individuals: First, we demonstrate that males are more likely to attempt to mate conspecific females; second, we show that males are more likely to approach pinned females that share their own warning pattern. These data are valuable as these taxa likely represent the early stages of speciation, but unusually also allow comparisons with rates of interbreeding between divergent ecologically relevant phenotypes measured in the wild.