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DRIFT PROMOTES SPECIATION BY SEXUAL SELECTION

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Abstract

Quantitative genetic models of sexual selection have generally failed to provide a direct connection to speciation and to explore the consequences of finite population size. The connection to speciation has been indirect because the models have treated only the evolution of male and female traits and have stopped short of modeling the evolution of sexual isolation. In this article we extend Lande's (1981) model of sexual selection to quantify predictions about the evolution of sexual isolation and speciation. Our results, based on computer simulations, support and extend Lande's claim that drift along a line of equilibria can rapidly lead to sexual isolation and speciation. Furthermore, we show that rapid speciation can occur by drift in populations of appreciable size (Ne≥ 1000). These results are in sharp contrast to the opinion of many researchers and textbook writers who have argued that drift does not play an important role in speciation. We argue that drift may be a powerful amplifier of speciation under a wide variety of modeling assumptions, even when selection acts directly on female mating preferences.

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