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Keywords:

  • Calopteryx;
  • environmental change;
  • hybridization;
  • male mate choice;
  • premating isolation;
  • reinforcement;
  • sympatry

Prolonged periods of allopatry might result in loss of the ability to discriminate against other formerly sympatric species, and can lead to heterospecific matings and hybridization upon secondary contact. Loss of premating isolation during prolonged allopatry can operate in the opposite direction of reinforcement, but has until now been little explored. We investigated how premating isolation between two closely related damselfly species, Calopteryx splendens and C. virgo, might be affected by the expected future northward range expansion of C. splendens into the allopatric zone of C. virgo in northern Scandinavia. We simulated the expected secondary contact by presenting C. splendens females to C. virgo males in the northern allopatric populations in Finland. Premating isolation toward C. splendens in northern allopatric populations was compared to sympatric populations in southern Finland and southern Sweden. Male courtship responses of C. virgo toward conspecific females showed limited geographic variation, however, courtship attempts toward heterospecific C. splendens females increased significantly from sympatry to allopatry. Our results suggest that allopatric C. virgo males have partly lost their ability to discriminate against heterospecific females. Reduced premating isolation in allopatry might lead to increased heterospecific matings between taxa that are currently expanding and shifting their ranges in response to climate change.