Multiple post-mating barriers to hybridization in field crickets



Mechanisms that prevent different species from interbreeding are fundamental to the maintenance of biodiversity. Barriers to interspecific matings, such as failure to recognize a potential mate, are often relatively easy to identify. Those occurring after mating, such as differences in the how successful sperm are in competition for fertilisations, are cryptic and have the potential to create selection on females to mate multiply as a defence against maladaptive hybridization. Cryptic advantages to conspecific sperm may be very widespread and have been identified based on the observations of higher paternity of conspecifics in several species. However, a relationship between the fate of sperm from two species within the female and paternity has never been demonstrated. We use competitive microsatellite PCR to show that in two hybridising cricket species, Gryllus bimaculatus and G. campestris, sequential cryptic reproductive barriers are present. In competition with heterospecifics, more sperm from conspecific males is stored by females. Additionally, sperm from conspecific males has a higher fertilisation probability. This reveals that conspecific sperm precedence can occur through processes fundamentally under the control of females, providing avenues for females to evolve multiple mating as a defence against hybridization, with the counterintuitive outcome that promiscuity reinforces isolation and may promote speciation.