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Keywords:

  • Littorinidae;
  • morphology;
  • phylogeny;
  • reinforcement;
  • reproductive character displacement;
  • speciation

Abstract

A pattern of greater divergence in mating traits between sister-species pairs with overlapping ranges than between allopatric species pairs is expected if reinforcement commonly contributes to speciation. Few large-scale comparative analyses have addressed this prediction, especially for genital form. Here, we show that penial morphology follows the predicted pattern in 40 robustly identified sister-species pairs in the marine gastropod subfamily Littorininae. Further work is needed to exclude other processes that may contribute to genital divergence between sympatric species, but the clear pattern we observe strongly suggests a role for genital form in reproductive isolation in this large clade.