An important evolutionary question concerns whether one or many barriers are involved in the early stages of speciation. We examine pre- and post-zygotic reproductive barriers between two species of butterflies (Heliconius erato chestertonii and H. e. venus) separated by a bimodal hybrid zone in the Cauca Valley, Colombia. We show that there is both strong pre- and post-mating reproductive isolation, together leading to a 98% reduction in gene flow between the species. Pre-mating isolation plays a primary role, contributing strongly to this isolation (87%), similar to previous examples in Heliconius. Post-mating isolation was also strong, with absence of Haldane's rule, but an asymmetric reduction in fertility (< 11%) in inter-specific crosses depending on maternal genotype. In summary, this is one of the first examples of post-zygotic reproductive isolation playing a significant role in early stages of parapatric speciation in Heliconius and demonstrates the importance of multiple barriers to gene flow in the speciation process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics