Male and female contributions to behavioral isolation in darters as a function of genetic distance and color distance

Rachel L. Moran, Muchu Zhou, Julian M. Catchen, Rebecca C. Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Determining which reproductive isolating barriers arise first between geographically isolated lineages is critical to understanding allopatric speciation. We examined behavioral isolation among four recently diverged allopatric species in the orangethroat darter clade (Etheostoma: Ceasia). We also examined behavioral isolation between each Ceasia species and the sympatric rainbow darter Etheostoma caeruleum. We asked (1) is behavioral isolation present between allopatric Ceasia species, and how does this compare to behavioral isolation with E. caeruleum, (2) does male color distance and/or genetic distance predict behavioral isolation between species, and (3) what are the relative contributions of female choice, male choice, and male competition to behavioral isolation? We found that behavioral isolation, genetic differentiation, and male color pattern differentiation were present between allopatric Ceasia species. Males, but not females, discerned between conspecific and heterospecific mates. Males also directed more aggression toward conspecific rival males. The high levels of behavioral isolation among Ceasia species showed no obvious pattern with genetic distance or male color distance. However, when the E. caeruleum was included in the analysis, an association between male aggression and male color distance was apparent. We discuss the possibility that reinforcement between Ceasia and E. caeruleum is driving behavioral isolation among allopatric Ceasia species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2428-2444
Number of pages17
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Behavioral isolation
  • color pattern
  • genetic distance
  • population divergence
  • reinforcement
  • sexual selection
  • speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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