Color assortative mating contributes to sympatric divergence of neotropical cichlid fish

Elmer, K. R. , Lehtonen, T. K. and Meyer, A. (2009) Color assortative mating contributes to sympatric divergence of neotropical cichlid fish. Evolution, 63(10), pp. 2750-2757. (doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00736.x)

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It is still debated vigorously whether sexual selection can result in speciation without physical barriers to gene flow. In this study, we used field data and molecular methods to investigate the gold–normal color polymorphism in two endemic cichlid fish species of crater lake Xiloá, Nicaragua. We found significant assortative mating by color in both Amphilophus xiloaensis and A. sagittae. Focusing on A. xiloaensis, microsatellite allele frequencies, an assignment test, and model-based cluster analysis demonstrates significant and clear genetic differentiation (FST= 0.03) between gold and normal individuals in sympatry. In addition, we find genetic differentiation between all three sympatric and ecologically distinct Midas cichlid species of Lake Xiloá, A. amarillo, A. sagittae, and A. xiloaensis (FST= 0.03 – 0.19), and clear genetic isolation of these species from their closest relative (A. citrinellus) in the neighboring great lake Managua. The A. xiloaensis gold morph is genetically more distinct from the lake's other two Midas cichlid species than is A. xiloaensis-normal. Thus, we have identified sexual isolation based on color that is evident in population genetics and mate choice. Our results suggest that sexual selection through color assortative mating may play an important role in incipient sympatric speciation in Midas cichlids of Nicaragua.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Elmer, Professor Kathryn
Authors: Elmer, K. R., Lehtonen, T. K., and Meyer, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Evolution
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN (Online):1558-5646

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