Habitat Association and Seasonality in a Mosaic and Bimodal Hybrid Zone between Chorthippus brunneus and C. jacobsi (Orthoptera: Acrididae)

>Understanding why some hybrid zones are bimodal and others unimodal can aid in identifying barriers to gene exchange following secondary contact. The hybrid zone between the grasshoppers Chorthippus brunneus and C. jacobsi contains a mix of allopatric parental populations and inter-mingled bimodal and unimodal sympatric populations, and provides an ideal system to examine the roles of local selection and gene flow between populations in maintaining bimodality. However, it is first necessary to confirm, over a larger spatial scale, previously identified associations between population composition and season and habitat. Here we use cline-fitting of one morphological and one song trait along two valley transects, and intervening mountains, to confirm previously identified habitat associations (mountain versus valley) and seasonal changes in population composition. As expected from previous findings of studies on a smaller spatial scale, C. jacobsi dominated mountain habitats and mixed populations dominated valleys, and C. brunneus became more prevalent in August. Controlling for habitat and incorporating into the analysis seasonal changes in cline parameters and the standard errors of parental trait values revealed wider clines than previous studies (best estimates of 6.4 to 24.5 km in our study versus 2.8 to 4.7 km in previous studies) and increased percentage of trait variance explained (52.7% and 61.5% for transects 1 and 2 respectively, versus 17.6%). Revealing such strong and consistent patterns within a complex hybrid zone will allow more focused examination of the causes of variation in bimodality in mixed populations, in particular the roles of local selection versus habitat heterogeneity and gene flow between differentiated populations.

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Source URL:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0037684