Evol Ecol Res 8: 643-658 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Pre-mating mechanisms favouring or precluding speciation in a species complex: chemical recognition and sexual selection between types in the lizard Podarcis hispanica

José Martín* and Pilar López

Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: jose.martin@mncn.csic.es


Question: Do chemical recognition mechanisms and sexual selection processes contribute to reproductive isolation between closely related taxa?

Organism: The lacertid Iberian wall lizard (Podarcis hispanica).

Background: Recent molecular studies have suggested that this lizard forms a species complex with ongoing speciation processes. Two of the monophyletic types of this lizard are mainly allopatric. However, they live close together in the Guadarrama Mountains (Central Spain) and are not geographically isolated.

Methods: We measured tongue-flick rates to chemical stimuli from males and females, and staged intra-sexual agonistic encounters and inter-sexual courtships between lizards of both types.

Conclusions: Males discriminated between males of different types based on chemical cues alone, and there were differences in the aggressiveness and outcome of agonistic encounters depending on the types of interacting males. However, males did not discriminate chemically between female types, and females did not discriminate between male types. Inter-sexual courtships suggested that matings may occur between lizards of the two types. Therefore, in spite of differences between male types, behaviourally mediated reproductive isolation may not be entirely effective at this moment.

Keywords: chemoreception, lizards, pre-mating isolation, sexual selection, speciation.

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