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Keywords:

  • arbitrariness;
  • male–female coevolution;
  • natural selection;
  • parallel speciation;
  • reproductive proteins

Abstract

By tradition, speciation research has been focused on processes leading to either premating or post-zygotic reproductive isolation. The processes which generate isolation after mating but before zygote formation are less well understood. Here, we study divergence in characters which contribute to post-mating prezygotic isolation, such as egg production and remating rate. We propose that ‘replicated’ laboratory phylogenies with known histories can be used to yield insights into the processes of divergence. We performed a series of cross-matings between populations within two strains of the bean weevil Callosobruchus maculatus. Each strain has a unique and independent origin and both have been kept in the same set of laboratories during the last few decades. Our results show that divergence has occurred between laboratory populations within strains with regards to the effects that mating has on female reproductive behaviour, showing that the evolution of partial post-mating prezygotic isolation can be rapid. More importantly, the pattern of divergence across populations was distinct in the two strains, suggesting that coevolutionary trajectories are not determined by environmental factors but are to some extent arbitrary. We discuss the limitations of the novel empirical strategy employed here, and conclude that our results lend support to the hypothesis that post-mating sexual selection is capable of rapidly generating post-mating prezygotic isolation.