Age-specific fitness components in hybrid females of Drosophila pseudoobscura and D. persimilis

J Hered. Jan-Feb 2001;92(1):30-7. doi: 10.1093/jhered/92.1.30.


Most models of hybridization assume that hybrids are less fit than their parental taxa. In contrast, some researchers have explored the possibility that hybrid individuals may actually have higher fitness and so play an important role in the generation of new species or adaptations. By estimating age-specific fitness components, we can determine not only how hybrid fitness differs from parental taxa, but also whether the fitness of hybrids relative to parental taxa changes with age. Here we describe an analysis of age-specific fitness traits in two species of Drosophila, D. pseudoobscura and D. persimilis, and their F1 hybrids. At early ages, hybrid females lay as many eggs as parental individuals, on average, but produce far fewer offspring. By late ages, in contrast, parental taxa show a steep decline in production not seen in hybrids, such that hybrids produce more offspring, on average, than parental taxa. Furthermore, egg-adult survival in hybrids is negatively correlated with egg density, whereas these traits are only weakly correlated in parental taxa. The results are limited somewhat by the fact that we analyze only two strains, and that these may be partially inbred. Nonetheless, the results are certainly illustrative, pointing out not only that at least some hybrid individuals may be as fit or fitter than parental taxa, but also that the difference between hybrids and parental taxa varies with age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Chimera*
  • Courtship
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Oogenesis / physiology*
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Selection, Genetic*