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Keywords:

  • Chorthippus;
  • hybrid zone;
  • linkage disequilibrium;
  • mosaic;
  • song

Abstract The grasshoppers Chorthippus brunneus and Chorthippus jacobsi are easily distinguished by male calling song and the number of stridulatory pegs on the hind femur, and form a mosaic hybrid zone in northern Spain. In this paper, we fit a two-dimensional cline to variation in male calling song characters, which are of particular interest as they are likely to be involved in mate choice by females. As with variation in peg number, local habitat makes only a small contribution in explaining deviations in mean song score from clinal expectations. However, the fitted width of the cline for song characters is significantly narrower than for peg number, suggesting that mating signals may be associated with reduced hybrid fitness in the field and that recombination rates are sufficient to allow clines for different characters to diverge in width. Despite this, estimates for the overall elevation in linkage disequilibrium at the zone center, based on covariance between peg and song characters, reveal a substantial overrepresentation of parental genotypes at the cline center relative to the expectations of a tension zone of similar width. Examination of covariance at individual sites reveals that this inflated estimate of linkage disequilibrium is caused by several sites where the distribution of phenotypes is effectively bimodal. This substantial variation in linkage disequilibrium at the cline center could result from local variation in the strength of assortative mating or selection against hybrids, or may reflect the long-distance colonization of empty habitat from outside the hybrid zone, which would continually create new contacts between parental genotypes at the cline center. Hybrid zones like this, in which strong linkage disequilibrium occurs in some situations but not in others, are of particular relevance to speciation research and allow investigation of the spread of combinations of alleles through different genetic and ecological backgrounds.