Estimation of mating systems in Short and Tall ecomorphs of the coral Favia fragum


David B. Carlon, Fax: 808-956-4722;


We used 15 microsatellite markers to estimate the selfing rate (s), outcrossing rate (tO) and hybridization between partially sympatric ecomorphs (tH) of the coral Favia fragum. Genotyping of progeny arrays revealed complete self-fertilization in the Tall ecomorph and low outcrossing (tO + tH < 1%) in the Short ecomorph. Further, all larvae could be assigned with high probability to the same population as their parental dam, indicating no hybridization between ecomorphs (tH = 0). Despite low ecological estimates of outcrossing, Q values from highly structured adult populations indicated that 9% of the adult samples were the products of outcrossing, and an additional 11% were hybrids. Reproductive isolation appears to have a strong geographical component, as we did not detect hybrids at a second site where the two ecomorphs were distributed in complete microallopatry. Adult estimates of gene flow within ecomorphs may be positively biased by ecomorph-specific patterns of inbreeding depression, but cryptic gene flow between ecomorphs is most likely explained by undetected outcrossing and the fact that hybrid lineages persist after repeated generations of self-fertilization. Our microsatellite data show that phenotypic differences between ecomorphs are maintained in sympatry despite evidence for hybridization.