Sexual isolation and extreme morphological divergence in the Cumaná guppy: a possible case of incipient speciation


H. J. Alexander, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr, Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6, Canada.
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Theory predicts that sexual selection can promote the evolution of reproductive isolation and speciation. Those cases in which sexual selection has led to speciation should be characterized by significant differentiation in male display traits and correlated female preferences in the absence of post-zygotic isolation, accompanied by little genetic or other morphological differentiation. Previous evidence indicates that a cluster of populations of the guppy (Poecilia reticulata Peters) from Cumaná, Venezuela, the ‘Cumaná guppy’, differs significantly in female preferences from a nearby guppy population (A. Lindholm & F. Breden, Am. Nat., 160: 2002, S214). Here, we further document sexual isolation between these populations. In addition, these populations exhibit significant divergence in male display traits correlated to differences in between-population mating success, little mitochondrial genetic differentiation, and we find no evidence for genetic incompatibility between a Cumaná population and several geographically isolated populations. These results suggest that divergent sexual selection has contributed to differentiation of the Cumaná guppy, and this may be the first example of incipient speciation in the guppy.