Disruptive selection on female reproductive characters in a hybrid zone of Littorina saxatilis
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- Cruz, R. & García, C. Evolutionary Ecology (2001) 15: 167. doi:10.1023/A:1014878523629
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We studied natural selection in a hybrid zone of the intertidal marine snail Littorina saxatilis located in Galicia (NW Spain) by measuring the number and average size of the embryos carried by females. We related these characters with the females' position on the phenotypic and environmental gradients between the two pure morphs of the hybrid zone. In contrast with previous interpretations of studies made in this hybrid zone, we found a depression in both embryo number and size for phenotypically intermediate females. This disruptive natural selection could play an important role in the maintenance of the population's bimodal phenotypic distribution and in that of the assortative mating between the pure morphs. We found also that intermediate environments tended to be unfavorable for all phenotypes. Although the precise causes for the found depression in female reproductive characters remain to be determined, these results serve to emphasize the importance of studying whole fitness surfaces in hybrid zones, across the complete phenotypic and environmental ranges, instead of merely comparing the fitness averages of the two pure morphs and the intermediate individuals, taken as three discrete phenotypic classes.