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Keywords:

  • Behavioral isolation;
  • European corn borer;
  • gene flow;
  • hybridization;
  • Ostrinia;
  • premating isolation;
  • reproductive isolation;
  • speciation;
  • temporal isolation

Of 12 potential reproductive isolating barriers between closely related Z- and E-pheromone strains of the European corn borer moth (Ostrinia nubilalis), seven significantly reduced gene flow but none were complete, suggesting that speciation in this lineage is a gradual process in which multiple barriers of intermediate strength accumulate. Estimation of the cumulative effect of all barriers resulted in nearly complete isolation (>99%), but geographic variation in seasonal isolation allowed as much as ∼10% gene flow. With the strongest barriers arising from mate-selection behavior or ecologically relevant traits, sexual and natural selection are the most likely evolutionary processes driving population divergence. A recent multilocus genealogical study corroborates the roles of selection and gene flow (Dopman et al. 2005), because introgression is supported at all loci besides Tpi, a sex-linked gene. Tpi reveals strains as exclusive groups, possesses signatures of selection, and is tightly linked to a QTL that contributes to seasonal isolation. With more than 98% of total cumulative isolation consisting of prezygotic barriers, Z and E strains of ECB join a growing list of taxa in which species boundaries are primarily maintained by the prevention of hybridization, possibly because premating barriers evolve during early stages of population divergence.