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Male-male competition and female mate choice may both play important roles in driving and maintaining reproductive isolation between species. When previously allopatric species come into secondary contact with each other due to introductions, they provide an opportunity to evaluate the identity and strength of reproductive isolating mechanisms. If reproductive isolation is not maintained, hybridization may occur. We examined how reproductive isolating mechanisms mediate hybridization between endemic populations of the Red River pupfish Cyprinodon rubrofluviatilis and the recently introduced sheepshead minnow C. variegatus. In lab-based dominance trials, males of both species won the same number of competitions. However, male C. rubrofluviatilis that won competitions were more aggressive than C. variegatus winners, and more aggression was needed to win against competitor C. variagatus than allopatric C. rubrofluviatilis. Duration of fights also differed based on the relatedness of the competitor. In dichotomous mate choice trials, there were no conspecific or heterospecific preferences expressed by females of either species. Our findings that male-male aggression differs between closely and distantly related groups, but female choice does not suggest that male-male competition may be the more likely mechanism to impede gene flow in this system.


Cory Becher, Jennifer M Gumm, The roles of inter- and intra-sexual selection in behavioral isolation between native and invasive pupfishes, Current Zoology, Volume 64, Issue 1, February 2018, Pages 135–144,




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