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. 1998 Dec;52(6):1744-1759.
doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.1998.tb02254.x.

ISOLATING A ROLE FOR NATURAL SELECTION IN SPECIATION: HOST ADAPTATION AND SEXUAL ISOLATION IN NEOCHLAMISUS BEBBIANAE LEAF BEETLES

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ISOLATING A ROLE FOR NATURAL SELECTION IN SPECIATION: HOST ADAPTATION AND SEXUAL ISOLATION IN NEOCHLAMISUS BEBBIANAE LEAF BEETLES

Daniel J Funk. Evolution. .

Abstract

Muller (1942) and Mayr (1963) hypothesized that natural selection indirectly causes the evolution of reproductive barriers between allopatric populations by causing adaptive genetic divergence that pleiotropically promotes prezygotic or postzygotic incompatibility. Under this mechanism, herbivorous insect populations should be more prone to speciate if they are adapting to different host plants, because the evolution of reproductive isolation will be accelerated above the rate promoted by genetic drift and host-independent sources of selection alone. Although the Muller-Mayr hypothesis is widely accepted, little direct evidence has been collected in support of selection's role in allopatric speciation. This paper offers a method for isolating and evaluating the contribution of host plant-related natural selection pressures to the reproductive isolation between allopatric herbivore populations. The host-related selection hypothesis (HRSH) predicts that herbivore populations using different host plants should be more reproductively isolated than those using the same host, other things being equal. Here, I test this hypothesis using Neochlamisus bebbianae, an oligophagous leaf beetle with a geographically variable host range. In each of two sets of experiments (contrast I, contrast II), I compared two beetle populations (Georgia and New York) that use the same host (Acer) in nature and a third population that natively uses a different host (Betula in Oklahoma [CI], Salix in Ontario [CII]). Experiments showed that "different-host" populations were more strongly differentiated in host-use traits (oviposition, host fidelity, feeding response, larval performance) than were "same-host" populations and that each population most readily uses foliage from its native host. As predicted by the HRSH, sexual isolation was also greater between the adaptively divergent different-host populations (from Betula vs. Acer, from Salix vs. Acer) than between the same-host populations (from Acer), which were undifferentiated in host-use traits. Interpreting these results in a historical context provided by mtDNA sequences from test populations indicated: (1) that Acer- and Betula-associated N. bebbianae represent separate sibling species whose causal origins have been lost to history, and whose incomplete sexual isolation is fortified by host-associated ecological and "physiological" isolation; and (2) that incipiently speciating Acer- and Salix-associated populations are more closely related to each other than are the two Acer-associated populations, which is consistent with the HRSH. This study thus illustrates the consequences of host-related selection for both the origin and maintenance of reproductive isolation. More important, it provides evidence that the pleiotropic effects of natural selection promote allopatric speciation.

Keywords: Chrysomelidae; Neochlamisus bebbianae; host fidelity; host preference; insect-plant interactions; pleiotropy; reproductive isolation; sibling species.

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