Alternative male reproductive tactics drive asymmetrical hybridization between sunfishes (Lepomis spp.)

Biology Letters
S R Garner, B D Neff


The potential role of alternative reproductive tactics in circumventing premating isolating mechanisms and driving hybridization between species has long been recognized, but to date there is little empirical support from natural systems. Hybridization occurs between bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) and pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) and it is known to be asymmetrical (male bluegill × female pumpkinseed). Here, we test whether this pattern is driven by a recognition failure by pumpkinseed females or by an alternative cuckolder reproductive tactic in bluegill males. Using genetic parentage data, we found that bluegill cuckolders fathered 24.9% of the larvae in bluegill nests, but no evidence that pumpkinseed females spawned in bluegill nests. Pumpkinseed cuckolders fathered 8.7% of the larvae in pumpkinseed nests, whereas bluegill cuckolders fathered 13.6% of the larvae in those nests. Bluegill cuckolders thus frequently spawn in pumpkinseed nests and are responsible for the asymmetrical hybridization between the species. We discuss the evolutionary consequences of interactions between bluegill and pumpkinseed and the role of alternative reproductive tactics in adaptation and introgression.


Jun 4, 2014·Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution·Daniel T BaldassarreMichael S Webster
Apr 27, 2017·Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution·Sherry N N DuGraham R Scott


Jun 7, 2008·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·Klaus SchwenkBruno Streit
Nov 3, 2009·Journal of Evolutionary Biology·K TynkkynenJ S Kotiaho
Feb 1, 1996·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·M R Gross
Dec 1, 1998·Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution·J A DewoodyJ C Avise

Related Concepts

Nucleic Acid Hybridization Procedure
Hybridization, Intraspecies
Sexual Behavior, Animal
Mating Preference, Animal
Lepomis gibbosus
Genus Lepomis

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