The hybrid sunflower species Helianthus paradoxus inhabits sporadic salt marshes in New Mexico and southwest Texas, USA, whereas its parental species, Helianthus annuus and Helianthus petiolaris, are salt sensitive. Previous studies identified three genomic regions — survivorship quantitative trait loci (QTLs) — that were under strong selection in experimental hybrids transplanted into the natural habitat of H. paradoxus. Here we ask whether these same genomic regions experienced significant selection during the origin and evolution of the natural hybrid, H. paradoxus. This was accomplished by comparing the variability of microsatellites linked to the three survivorship QTLs with those from genomic regions that were neutral in the experimental hybrids. As predicted if one or more selective sweeps had occurred in these regions, microsatellites linked to the survivorship QTLs exhibited a significant reduction in diversity in populations of the natural hybrid species. In contrast, no difference in diversity levels was observed between the two microsatellite classes in parental populations.