Complementary effect of natural and sexual selection against immigrants maintains differentiation between locally adapted fish
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Adaptation to ecologically heterogeneous environments can drive speciation. But what mechanisms maintain reproductive isolation among locally adapted populations? Using poeciliid fishes in a system with naturally occurring toxic hydrogen sulfide, we show that (a) fish from non-sulfidic sites (Poecilia mexicana) show high mortality (95 %) after 24 h when exposed to the toxicant, while locally adapted fish from sulfidic sites (Poecilia sulphuraria) experience low mortality (13 %) when transferred to non-sulfidic water. (b) Mate choice tests revealed that P. mexicana females exhibit a preference for conspecific males in non-sulfidic water, but not in sulfidic water, whereas P. sulphuraria females never showed a preference. Increased costs of mate choice in sulfidic, hypoxic water, and the lack of selection for reinforcement due to the low survival of P. mexicana may explain the absence of a preference in P. sulphuraria females. Taken together, our study may be the first to demonstrate independent—but complementary—effects of natural and sexual selection against immigrants maintaining differentiation between locally adapted fish populations.
KeywordsEcological speciation Female choice Hydrogen sulfide Isolation-by-adaptation Reciprocal translocation experiment Reproductive isolation
This research was conducted under the authorization of the Mexican Federal Government SEMARNAT (SGPA/DGVS/06106/09). We thank the DFG (PL 470/1-2), NSF (DEB-0743406), the Herrmann Willkomm Foundation, and the Swiss National Science Foundation (PBZHA-121016) for financial support and the landowners in Tabasco for access to field sites.
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