Theory predicts that variability in size and the shape of a morphological trait should often be stable both at the intra- and interspecific level. We studied variation in beak integration among several populations of two species of the genus Passer, a hybrid species, the Italian sparrow (Passer italiae) and one of its parents, the Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis). We show that the general shape of the beak has been conserved in these two species and that hybrid speciation has had no major effects on beak integration. However, in young, sympatric populations, phenotypic integration between beak height and length decreased significantly, to the extent that these two dimensions apparently became independent. This displacement in phenotypic integration seems to be accompanied with changes in the distribution of phenotypic variation at the univariate level. This suggests that while beak shape may have been constrained over evolutionary time-scales and major hybridization events (i.e. the formation of the hybrid Italian sparrow), under specific selection regimes linked to secondary contact, it can evolve rapidly.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics