Journal Article

Speciation in caves: experimental evidence that permanent darkness promotes reproductive isolation

Riesch, R, Plath, M and Schlupp, I

Record Number:
2470
Year:
2011
Journal:
Biology Letters
Pages:
909-912
Volume:
7
Short Title:
Speciation in caves: experimental evidence that permanent darkness promotes reproductive isolation
Abstract:
Divergent selection through biotic factors like predation or parasitism can promote reproductive isolation even in the absence of geographical barriers. On the other hand, evidence for a role of adaptation to abiotic factors during ecological speciation in animals is scant. In particular, the role played by perpetual darkness in establishing reproductive isolation in cave animals (troglobites) remains elusive. We focused on two reproductively isolated ecotypes (surface- and cave-dwelling) of the widespread livebearer Poecilia mexicana, and raised offspring of wild-caught females to sexual maturity in a 12-month common-garden experiment. Fish were reared in light or darkness combined with high- or low-food conditions. Females, but not males, of the surface ecotype suffered from almost complete reproductive failure in darkness, especially in the low-food treatment. Furthermore, surface fish suffered from a significantly higher rate of spontaneous, stress-related infection with bacterial columnaris disease. This experimental evidence for strong selection by permanent darkness on non-adapted surface-dwelling animals adds depth to our understanding of the selective forces establishing and maintaining reproductive isolation in cave faunas.
Times Cited:
1
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