Patterns of introgression vary within an avian hybrid zone.

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: Exploring hybrid zone dynamics at different spatial scales allows for better understanding of local factors that influence hybrid zone structure. In this study, we tested hypotheses about drivers of introgression at two spatial scales within the Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammospiza caudacuta) and Nelson's Sparrow (A. nelsoni) hybrid zone. Specifically, we evaluated the influence of neutral demographic processes (relative species abundance), natural selection (exogenous environmental factors and genetic incompatibilities), and sexual selection (assortative mating) in this mosaic hybrid zone. By intensively sampling adults (n = 218) and chicks (n = 326) at two geographically proximate locations in the center of the hybrid zone, we determined patterns of introgression on a fine scale across sites of differing habitat. We made broadscale comparisons of patterns from the center with those of prior studies in the southern edge of the hybrid zone. RESULTS: A panel of fixed SNPs (135) identified from ddRAD sequencing was used to calculate a hybrid index and determine genotypic composition/admixture level of the populations. Another panel of polymorphic SNPs (589) was used to assign paternity and reconstruct mating pairs to test for sexual selection. On a broad-scale, patterns of introgression were not explained by random mating within marshes. We found high rates of back-crossing and similarly low rates of recent-generation (F1/F2) hybrids in the center and south of the zone. Offspring genotypic proportions did not meet those expected from random mating within the parental genotypic distribution. Additionally, we observed half as many F1/F2 hybrid female adults than nestlings, while respective male groups showed no difference, in support of Haldane's Rule. The observed proportion of interspecific mating was lower than expected when accounting for mate availability, indicating assortative mating was limiting widespread hybridization. On a fine spatial scale, we found variation in the relative influence of neutral and selective forces between inland and coastal habitats, with the smaller, inland marsh influenced primarily by neutral demographic processes, and the expansive, coastal marsh experiencing higher selective pressures in the form of natural (exogenous and endogenous) and sexual selection. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple drivers of introgression, including neutral and selective pressures (exogenous, endogenous, and sexual selection), are structuring this hybrid zone, and their relative influence is site and context-dependent.
  • Authors

  • Maxwell, Logan M
  • Walsh, Jennifer
  • Olsen, Brian J
  • Kovach, Adrienne
  • Publication Date

  • January 28, 2021
  • Published In

  • BMC Ecol Evol  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Ammospiza caudacutus
  • Ammospiza nelsoni
  • Animals
  • Assortative mating
  • Demographics
  • Exogenous selection
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Haldane’s rule
  • Hybrid zone
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Introgression
  • Male
  • Natural selection
  • Reproduction
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sexual selection
  • Sparrows
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 14
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 1