SEXUAL SELECTION IS INVOLVED IN SPECIATION IN A LAND SNAIL RADIATION ON CRETE

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Abstract

We investigated the importance of sexual selection in facilitating speciation in a land snail radiation on Crete. We used differences in the genitalia of the Cretan Xerocrassa species as potential indices of sexual selection. First, we rejected the hypothesis that differences in the genitalia of the Xerocrassa species can be explained by genetic drift using coalescent simulations based on a mitochondrial gene tree. Second, we showed that there is no evidence for the hypothesis that the differences in the genitalia can be explained by natural selection against hybrids under the assumption that this is more likely in geographically overlapping species pairs and clades. Third, we showed that there is a positive scaling between male spermatophore-producing organs and female spermatophore-receiving organs indicating sexual coevolution. The spermatophore enables the sperm to escape from the female gametolytic organ. Thus, the coevolution might be a consequence of sexual conflict or cryptic female choice. Finally, we showed that the evolution of differences in the length of the flagellum that forms the tail of the spermatophore is concentrated toward the tips of the tree indicating that it is involved in speciation. If speciation is facilitated by sexual selection, niches may remain conserved and nonadaptive radiation may result.

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