Hybrid speciation through sorting of parental incompatibilities in Italian sparrows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Speciation by hybridization is emerging as a significant contributor to biological diversification. Yet, little is known about the relative contributions of (i) evolutionary novelty and (ii) sorting of pre-existing parental incompatibilities to the build-up of reproductive isolation under this mode of speciation. Few studies have addressed empirically whether hybrid animal taxa are intrinsically isolated from their parents, and no study has so far investigated by which of the two aforementioned routes intrinsic barriers evolve. Here, we show that sorting of pre-existing parental incompatibilities contributes to intrinsic isolation of a hybrid animal taxon. Using a genomic cline framework, we demonstrate that the sex-linked and mitonuclear incompatibilities isolating the homoploid hybrid Italian sparrow at its two geographically separated hybrid–parent boundaries represent a subset of those contributing to reproductive isolation between its parent species, house and Spanish sparrows. Should such a sorting mechanism prove to be pervasive, the circumstances promoting homoploid hybrid speciation may be broader than currently thought, and indeed, there may be many cryptic hybrid taxa separated from their parent species by sorted, inherited incompatibilities.


  • Jo S. Hermansen
  • Fredrik Haas
  • Cassandra N. Trier
  • Richard I. Bailey
  • Alexander J. Nederbragt
  • Alfonso Marzal
  • Glenn-Peter Sætre
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • birds, hybridisation, introgression, Passer, reproductive barriers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5831-5842
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch