Components of reproductive isolation between the monkeyflowers Mimulus lewisii and M. cardinalis (Phrymaceae)

Evolution. 2003 Jul;57(7):1520-34. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb00360.x.


Evolutionists have long recognized the role of reproductive isolation in speciation, but the relative contributions of different reproductive barriers are poorly understood. We examined the nature of isolation between Mimulus lewisii and M. cardinalis, sister species of monkeyflowers. Studied reproductive barriers include: ecogeographic isolation; pollinator isolation (pollinator fidelity in a natural mixed population); pollen competition (seed set and hybrid production from experimental interspecific, intraspecific, and mixed pollinations in the greenhouse); and relative hybrid fitness (germination, survivorship, percent flowering, biomass, pollen viability, and seed mass in the greenhouse). Additionally, the rate of hybridization in nature was estimated from seed collections in a sympatric population. We found substantial reproductive barriers at multiple stages in the life history of M. lewisii and M. cardinalis. Using range maps constructed from herbarium collections, we estimated that the different ecogeographic distributions of the species result in 58.7% reproductive isolation. Mimulus lewisii and M. cardinalis are visited by different pollinators, and in a region of sympatry 97.6% of pollinator foraging bouts were specific to one species or the other. In the greenhouse, interspecific pollinations generated nearly 50% fewer seeds than intraspecific controls. Mixed pollinations of M. cardinalis flowers yielded >75% parentals even when only one-quarter of the pollen treatment consisted of M. cardinalis pollen. In contrast, both species had similar siring success on M. lewisii flowers. The observed 99.915% occurrence of parental M. lewisii and M. cardinalis in seeds collected from a sympatric population is nearly identical to that expected, based upon our field observations of pollinator behavior and our laboratory experiments of pollen competition. F1 hybrids exhibited reduced germination rates, high survivorship and reproduction, and low pollen and ovule fertility. In aggregate, the studied reproductive barriers prevent, on average, 99.87% of gene flow, with most reproductive isolation occurring prior to hybrid formation. Our results suggest that ecological factors resulting from adaptive divergence are the primary isolating barriers in this system. Additional studies of taxa at varying degrees of evolutionary divergence are needed to identify the relative importance of pre- and postzygotic isolating mechanisms in speciation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Biological Evolution*
  • California
  • Ecosystem
  • Genetics, Population
  • Geography*
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Mimulus / genetics
  • Mimulus / physiology*
  • Pollen / physiology*
  • Reproduction / physiology