Genetic divergence predicts reproductive isolation in damselflies

Rosa Sanchez Guillen, A. Cordoba-Aguilar, A. Cordero-Rivera, Maren Wellenreuther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reproductive isolation is the defining characteristic of a biological species, and a common, but often untested prediction is a positive correlation between reproductive isolation and genetic divergence. Here, we test for this correlation in odonates, an order characterized by strong sexual selection. First, we measure reproductive isolation and genetic divergence in eight damselfly genera (30 species pairs) and test for a positive correlation. Second, we estimate the genetic threshold preventing hybrid formation and empirically test this threshold using wild populations of species within the Ischnura genus. Our results indicate a positive and strong correlation between reproductive isolation and genetic distance using both mitochondrial and nuclear genes cytochrome oxidase II (COII: r=0.781 and 18S-28S: r=0.658). Hybridization thresholds range from -0.43 to 1.78% for COII and -0.052-0.71% for 18S-28S, and both F-1-hybrids and backcrosses were detected in wild populations of two pairs of Ischnura species with overlapping thresholds. Our study suggests that threshold values are suitable to identify species prone to hybridization and that positive isolation-divergence relationships are taxonomically widespread.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-87
JournalJournal of evolutionary biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biological Sciences

Free keywords

  • hybridization
  • odonates
  • sexual and natural forces
  • speciation clock


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