Post-mating prezygotic barriers to gene exchange between hybridizing field crickets


Erica L. Larson, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.
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Studies of sexual selection in speciation have traditionally focused on mate preference, with less attention given to traits that act between copulation and fertilization. However, recent work suggests that post-mating prezygotic barriers may play an important role in speciation. Here, we evaluate the role of such barriers in the field crickets, Gryllus firmus and Gryllus pennsylvanicus. Gryllus pennsylvanicus females mated with G. firmus males produce viable, fertile offspring, but when housed with both species produce offspring sired primarily by conspecifics. We evaluate patterns of sperm utilization in doubly mated G. pennsylvanicus females and find no evidence for conspecific sperm precedence. The reciprocal cross (G. firmus female × G. pennsylvanicus male) produces no progeny. Absence of progeny reflects a barrier to fertilization rather than reduced sperm transfer, storage or motility. We propose a classification scheme for mechanisms underlying post-mating prezygotic barriers similar to that used for premating barriers.