COS 64-7 - Hybridization, species collapse, and species reemergence after disturbance to premating mechanisms of reproductive isolation

Wednesday, August 10, 2011: 10:10 AM
16A, Austin Convention Center
Robert Tucker Gilman, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, Knoxville, TN and Jocelyn E. Behm, Zoology, University of Wisconsin- Madison, Madison, WI

There are now a number of well-studied cases in which hybridization between closely related sympatric species has increased, sometimes resulting in the replacement of species pairs by hybrid swarms.  Many of these cases have been linked to anthropogenic environmental change, but the mechanisms leading from environmental change to species collapse, and the long-term effects of hybridization on species pairs, remain poorly understood.  We used an individual-based stochastic simulation model to explore the conditions under which disturbances that weaken premating barriers to reproduction might lead to increased hybridization and to species collapse, and to gain insight into the evolutionary fate of collapsed species pairs.


Simuilated disturbances often resulted in bouts of hybridization, but in many cases strong reproductive isolation spontaneously reemerged.  This was sometimes true even after hybrid swarms had replaced parental species.  The reemergence of species pairs was most likely when disturbances were of short duration.  Counterintuitively, incipient species pairs were more likely to reemerge after strong but temporary disturbances than after weaker disturbances of the same duration.  Even temporary bouts of hybridization often led to substantial homogenization of species pairs.  This suggests that ecosystem managers may be able to refill ecological niches, but in general will not be able to resurrect lost species after species collapse.

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