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INTRASPECIFIC REPRODUCTIVE CHARACTER DISPLACEMENT IN A POLYMORPHIC POISON DART FROG, DENDROBATES PUMILIO

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Abstract

Divergence in male mating signals and associated female preferences is often an important step in the process of speciation. Reproductive character displacement, the pattern of greater divergence of male signals and/or female preference in sympatry than in allopatry, has been observed in a variety of taxa with different degrees of postzygotic isolation. A number of selective processes, including reinforcement, have been proposed to cause such a pattern. Cases in which reproductive character displacement occurs among intraspecific variants are especially informative for understanding how selection acting within a species can lead to the evolution of reproductive barriers and speciation. This study tested the hypothesis that female strawberry poison dart frogs (Dendrobates pumilio) in polymorphic populations of the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama show stronger mating discrimination than do females from monomorphic populations, exhibiting an intraspecific pattern of reproductive character displacement. Our results contribute important insights into understanding selection's role in generating the striking diversity of Bocas del Toro's D. pumilio and provide a snapshot of what could be the early stages of reproductive isolation and speciation.

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