Cultural traditions and the evolution of reproductive isolation: ecological speciation in killer whales?
Version of Record online: 4 APR 2012
© 2012 The Linnean Society of London
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume 106, Issue 1, pages 1–17, May 2012
How to Cite
RIESCH, R., BARRETT-LENNARD, L. G., ELLIS, G. M., FORD, J. K. B. and DEECKE, V. B. (2012), Cultural traditions and the evolution of reproductive isolation: ecological speciation in killer whales?. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 106: 1–17. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.01872.x
- Issue online: 4 APR 2012
- Version of Record online: 4 APR 2012
- Received 26 September 2011; revised 10 December 2011; accepted for publication 10 December 2011
- cultural evolution;
- gene–culture coevolution;
- vocal dialects
Human evolution has clearly been shaped by gene–culture interactions, and there is growing evidence that similar processes also act on populations of non-human animals. Recent theoretical studies have shown that culture can be an important evolutionary mechanism because of the ability of cultural traits to spread rapidly both vertically, obliquely, and horizontally, resulting in decreased within-group variance and increased between-group variance. Here, we collate the extensive literature on population divergence in killer whales (Orcinus orca), and argue that they are undergoing ecological speciation as a result of dietary specializations. Although we cannot exclude the possibility that cultural divergence pre-dates ecological divergence, we propose that cultural differences in the form of learned behaviours between ecologically divergent killer whale populations have resulted in sufficient reproductive isolation even in sympatry to lead to incipient speciation. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 106, 1–17.