Synergism of Natural Selection and Introgression in the Origin of a New Species
This Thursday we will discuss the interplay between introgessive hybridization and natural selection. We will read a recent paper by Peter and Rosemary Grant entitled "Synergism of Natural Selection and Introgression in the Origin of a New Species".
A young male of the new lineage (Geospiza fortis × scandens) from the island of Daphne. Photo credit: Peter R. Grant
Synergism of Natural Selection and Introgression in the Origin of a New Species (Grant & Grant, The American Naturalist 2014)
This article explores how introgressive hybridization enhances the evolutionary effects of natural selection and how, reciprocally, natural selection can enhance the evolutionary effects of introgression. Both types of interaction were observed during a 40-year study of Darwin’s finches (Geospiza) on the small Galápagos island of Daphne Major. Hybrids, produced rarely by Geospiza fortis (medium ground finch) breeding with Geospiza scandens (cactus finch) and Geospiza fuliginosa (small ground finch), survived and bred as well as the parental species in the past 3 decades. By backcrossing, they increased the standing genetic variation and thereby the evolutionary responsiveness of the populations to natural selection. Natural selection occurred in droughts and oscillated in direction as a result of climatically induced fluctuations in food composition. Introgressive hybridization has led to the formation of a new lineage. It was initiated by a large, introgressed, hybrid male with a unique song and genetic marker that immigrated from the nearby island of Santa Cruz and bred with local hybrids and with G. fortis. All members of the lineage died in the 2003–2005 drought except a brother and a sister, who then bred with each other. Subsequent increase in the lineage was facilitated by selective mortality of the largest G. fortis. Breeding endogamously, the lineage is behaving as a biological species.