Fitness and morphological outcomes of many generations of hybridization in the copepod Tigriopus californicus


  • Data deposited at Dryad: doi: 10.5061/dryad.2bj90

Correspondence: Suzanne Edmands, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371, USA.

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Hybridization between genetically divergent populations is an important evolutionary process, with an outcome that is difficult to predict. We used controlled crosses and freely mating hybrid swarms, followed for up to 30 generations, to examine the morphological and fitness consequences of interpopulation hybridization in the copepod Tigriopus californicus. Patterns of fitness in two generations of controlled crosses were partly predictive of long-term trajectories in hybrid swarms. For one pair of populations, controlled crosses revealed neutral or beneficial effects of hybridization after the F1 generation, and hybrid swarm fitness almost always equalled or exceeded that of the midparent. For a second pair, controlled crosses showed F2 hybrid breakdown, but increased fitness in backcrosses, and hybrid swarm fitness deviated both above and below that of the parentals. Nevertheless, individual swarm replicates exhibited different fitness trajectories over time that were not related in a simple manner to their hybrid genetic composition, and fixation of fitter hybrid phenotypes was not observed. Hybridization did not increase overall morphological variation, and underlying genetic changes may have been masked by phenotypic plasticity. Nevertheless, one type of hybrid swarm exhibited a repeatable pattern of transgressively large eggsacs, indicating a positive effect of hybridization on individual fecundity. Additionally, both parental and hybrid swarms exhibited common phenotypic trends over time, indicating common selective pressures in the laboratory environment. Our results suggest that, in a system where much work has focused on F2 hybrid breakdown, the long-term fitness consequences of interpopulation hybridization are surprisingly benign.