Earth Sciences Publications

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Journal of Evolutionary Biology

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Disruptive selection is a process that can result in multiple sub-groups within a population, referred to as diversification. Foraging related divergence has been described in many taxa, but many questions remain about the contribution of such divergence to reproductive isolation and potentially sympatric speciation. Here we use stable isotope analysis of diet and morphological analysis of body shape to examine phenotypic divergence between littoral and pelagic foraging ecomorphs in a population of pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus). We then examine reproductive isolation between ecomorphs by comparing the isotopic compositions of nesting males to eggs from their nests (a proxy for maternal diet), and use nine microsatellite loci to examine genetic divergence between ecomorphs. Our data support the presence of distinct foraging ecomorphs in this population and indicate that there is significant positive assortative mating based on diet. We did not find evidence of genetic divergence between ecomorphs, however, indicating that isolation is either relatively recent or is not strong enough to result in genetic divergence at the microsatellite loci. Based on our findings, pumpkinseed sunfish represent a system in which to further explore the mechanisms by which natural and sexual selection contribute to divergence, prior to the occurrence of sympatric speciation.

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