Reproductive isolation and the maintenance of species boundaries in two serpentine endemic Jewelflowers

Authors: Kyle Christie and Sharon Y. Strauss

Speciation occurs when reproductive barriers substantially reduce gene flow between lineages. Understanding how specific barriers contribute to reproductive isolation offers insight into the initial forces driving divergence and the evolutionary and ecological processes responsible for maintaining diversity. Here, we quantified multiple pre‐ and post‐pollination isolating barriers in a pair of closely related California Jewelflowers (Streptanthus, Brassicaceae) living in an area of sympatry. S. breweri and S. hesperidis are restricted to similar serpentine habitats; however, populations are spatially isolated at fine‐scales and rarely co‐occur in intermixed stands. Several intrinsic postzygotic barriers were among the strongest we quantified, yet, postzygotic barriers currently contribute little to overall reproductive isolation due to the cumulative strength of earlier‐acting extrinsic barriers, including spatial isolation, and flowering time and pollinator differences. Data from multiple years suggest that pre‐pollination barriers may have different strengths depending on annual environmental conditions. Similarly, crossing data suggest that the strength of intrinsic isolation may vary among different population pairs. Estimates of total reproductive isolation in S. breweri and S. hesperidis are robust to uncertainty and variability in individual barrier strength estimates, demonstrating how multiple barriers can act redundantly to prevent gene flow between close relatives living in sympatry.

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