Background: Although empirical data indicate that ecological speciation is prevalent in nature, the relative importance of different forms of reproductive isolation and the traits generating reproductive isolation remain unclear. To address these questions, we examined a pair of ecologically divergent pine-sawfly species: while Neodiprion pinetum specializes on a thin-needled pine (Pinus strobus), N. lecontei utilizes thicker-needled pines. We hypothesized that extrinsic postzygotic isolation is generated by oviposition traits. To test this hypothesis, we assayed ovipositor morphology, oviposition behavior, and host-dependent oviposition success in both species and in F1 and backcross females.
Results: Compared to N. lecontei, N. pinetum females preferred P. strobus more strongly, had smaller ovipositors, and laid fewer eggs per needle. Additionally, we observed host- and trait-dependent reductions in oviposition success in F1 and backcross females. Hybrid females that had pinetum-like host preference (P. strobus) and lecontei-like oviposition traits (morphology and egg pattern) fared especially poorly.
Conclusions: Together, these data indicate that maladaptive combinations of oviposition traits in hybrids contribute to extrinsic postzygotic isolation between N. lecontei and N. pinetum, suggesting that oviposition traits may be an important driver of divergence in phytophagous insects.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This work was supported by the University of Kentucky and the National Science Foundation (DEB-1257739).
All data (needle widths; oviposition behavior, ovipositor morphology, and hatch success for parents, F1s, and BCs) are archived at Dryad doi:10.5061/dryad.4g26c.
Bendall, Emily E.; Vertacnik, Kim L.; and Linnen, Catherine R., "Oviposition Traits Generate Extrinsic Postzygotic Isolation Between Two Pine Sawfly Species" (2017). Biology Faculty Publications. 123.