Papers in the Biological Sciences



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Am. Nat. 2018. Vol. 192, pp. 332–346.


2018 by The University of Chicago.


There is growing evidence that speciation can occur between populations that are not geographically isolated. The emergence of assortative mating is believed to be critical to this process, but how assortative mating arises in diverging populations is poorly understood. The wolf spider genus Schizocosa has become a model system for studying mechanisms of assortative mating. We conducted a series of experiments to identify the factors that control mate-pair formation in a Schizocosa population that includes both ornamented and nonornamented males. We show that the population also includes two previously unrecognized female phenotypes. One female phenotype mates mostly or exclusively with ornamented males, and the other mates mostly or exclusively with unornamented males. Assortative mating within these groups is maintained by differences in maturation time, microhabitat use, and female mate preference. We conclude that the population is not a single species, as previously believed, but rather an incipient species pair with multiple overlapping mechanisms of reproductive isolation. The identification of a new incipient species pair in the well-studied and rapidly speciating Schizocosa clade presents new opportunities for the study of speciation without geographic isolation.

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