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Open Access Research article

Introgression and rapid species turnover in sympatric damselflies

Rosa A Sánchez-Guillén1*, Maren Wellenreuther2, Adolfo Cordero-Rivera1 and Bengt Hansson2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Ecology and Animal Biology, E. U. E. T. Forestry, Vigo University, 36005 Pontevedra, Spain

2 Department of Biology, Lund University, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:210  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-210

Published: 18 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Studying contemporary hybridization increases our understanding of introgression, adaptation and, ultimately, speciation. The sister species Ischnura elegans and I. graellsii (Odonata: Coenagrionidae) are ecologically, morphologically and genetically similar and hybridize. Recently, I. elegans has colonized northern Spain, creating a broad sympatric region with I. graellsii. Here, we review the distribution of both species in Iberia and evaluate the degree of introgression of I. graellsii into I. elegans using six microsatellite markers (442 individuals from 26 populations) and five mitochondrial genes in sympatric and allopatric localities. Furthermore, we quantify the effect of hybridization on the frequencies of the genetically controlled colour polymorphism in females of both species.

Results

In a principal component analysis of the microsatellite data, the first two principal components summarised almost half (41%) of the total genetic variation. The first axis revealed a clear separation of I. graellsii and I. elegans populations, while the second axis separated I. elegans populations. Admixture analyses showed extensive hybridization and introgression in I. elegans populations, consistent with I. elegans backcrosses and occasional F1-hybrids, suggesting hybridization is on-going. More specifically, approximately 58% of the 166 Spanish I. elegans individuals were assigned to the I. elegans backcross category, whereas not a single of those individuals was assigned to the backcross with I. graellsii. The mitochondrial genes held little genetic variation, and the most common haplotype was shared by the two species.

Conclusions

The results suggest rapid species turnover in sympatric regions in favour of I. elegans, corroborating previous findings that I. graellsii suffers a mating disadvantage in sympatry with I. elegans. Examination of morph frequency dynamics indicates that hybridization is likely to have important implications for the maintenance of multiple female morphs, in particular during the initial period of hybridization.