North American Enallagma damselflies radiated during the Pleistocene, and species differ mainly by reproductive structures. Although morphologically very different, Enallagma hageni and Enallagma ebrium are genetically very similar. Partitioning of genetic variation (AFLP), isolation by distance and clustering analyses indicate that these morphospecies are locally differentiated genetically. Spatial analyses show that they are rarely sympatric at local sites, and their distributions form a mosaic of patches where one is clearly dominant over hundreds of square kilometers. However, these morphospecies are also not genetically more similar when they are sympatric, indicating that hybridization is probably not occurring. Given that these morphospecies are ecologically equivalent, strong assortative mating, reproductive interference and fast post-glacial recolonization may explain the origin and maintenance of these distributional patches across eastern North America. By limiting opportunities for gene flow, reproductive interference may play an unsuspected role in accelerating genetic differentiation in the early phases of nonecological speciation.
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2011 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.