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DEGREE OF SYMPATRY AFFECTS REINFORCEMENT IN DROSOPHILA

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Abstract

In a recent paper, Yukilevich (2012) showed that asymmetries between Drosophila species in the strength of premating isolation tend to match asymmetries in the costs of hybridization (inferred from asymmetries in the strength of postzygotic isolation and range sizes). The results provide novel evidence that the outcome of reinforcement can depend on the strength and frequency of selection against hybridization. Here, I reanalyze the data to demonstrate that another (unconsidered) factor, namely the quantitative degree of sympatry between species, also predictably affects reinforcement. Specifically, premating isolation is strongest at intermediate degrees of sympatry. This result complements, rather than challenges, those of Yukilevich (2012). One possible explanation for this newly discovered pattern is that when the degree of sympatry is small, selection for avoidance of hybridization is rare, but when the degree of sympatry is large, homogenizing gene flow overcomes reinforcing selection. Thus, reinforcement may depend on the balance between selection and gene flow. However, the current work examined degree of sympatry, not gene flow itself. Thus, further data on gene flow levels in Drosophila is required to test this hypothesis, which emerged from the patterns reported here.

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