Morgado-Santos, M., Pereira, H.M., Vicente, L., Collares-Pereira, M.J. (2015) Mate choice drives evolutionary stability in a hybrid complex.PLOS One, 10, e0132760. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0132760 (IF2015 3,057; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Previous studies have shown that assortative mating acts as a driver of speciation by countering hybridization between two populations of the same species (pre-zygotic isolation) or through mate choice among the hybrids (hybrid speciation). In both speciation types, assortative mating promotes speciation over a transient hybridization stage. We studied mate choice in a hybrid vertebrate complex, the allopolyploid fish Squalius alburnoides. This complex is composed by several genomotypes connected by an intricate reproductive dynamics. We developed a model that predicts the hybrid complex can persist when females exhibit particular mate choice patterns. Our model is able to reproduce the diversity of population dynamic outcomes found in nature, namely the dominance of the triploids and the dominance of the tetraploids, depending on female mate choice patterns and frequency of the parental species. Experimental mate choice trials showed that females exhibit the preferences predicted by the model. Thus, despite the known role of assortative mating in driving speciation, our findings suggest that certain mate choice patterns can instead hinder speciation and support the persistence of hybrids over time without speciation or extinction.