Sexual Selection, Epistasis and Species Boundaries in Sympatric Hawaiian Picture-winged Drosophila

Price, Donald; Souder, Steven; Russo-Tait, Tatiane
January 2014
Journal of Insect Behavior;Jan2014, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p27
Academic Journal
The Hawaiian picture-winged flies in the genus Drosophila are a spectacular example of rapid evolutionary diversification in which sexual selection is considered an important mechanism for reproductive isolation and speciation. We investigated the behavioral reproductive isolation of two closely related and sympatric Hawaiian picture-winged Drosophila species, D. silvestris and D. heteroneura, which are known to hybridize in nature and produce viable and fertile hybrids. We compared the mating success of parental, F1 and backcross males in pairings with D. heteroneura females. The F1 males were produced by mating D. heteroneura males with D. silvestris females, and the backcross males were produced by mating F1 females with D. heteroneura males. The mating success of backcross males paired with D. heteroneura females were significantly reduced relative to that of parental and F1 males. This reduced mating success occurred primarily at a late stage of courtship where female choice of mate may be important. Two- and three-gene models demonstrate that epistasis involving a few genes could account for the observed variation in male mating success. These results are consistent with negative epistasis in the backcross generation and support the importance of sexual selection and negative epistasis in the evolution and maintenance of these species.


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