, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 465-481

Evolutionary and ecological consequences of interspecific hybridization in cladocerans

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The evolutionary process of interspecific hybridization in cladocerans is reviewed based on ecological and population genetic data. The evolutionary consequences of hybridization, biogeographic patterns and fitness comparisons are analyzed within the conceptual framework of theories on hybridization. Among species of theD. longispina complex no interpopulational transition zones (hybrid zones) have been detected, but rather patchy distributions of hybrids and parentals have been found. Hybrids occur across broad geographic ranges and can be more abundant than parental species. Due to asexual reproduction (ameiotic parthenogenesis), hybrid breakdown can be avoided, and hybrids can even (temporarily) combine advantageous traits of both parental species. Evolutionary consequences may arise from repeated backcrossing, which in some cases results in introgression and patterns of reticulate evolution.