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Sexual selection, reinforcement theory, and reproductive isolation: frontiers in the diversification of Physalaemus (Anura)

Grant number: 20/11125-2
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2021
Effective date (End): December 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal researcher:Luciana Bolsoni Lourenço
Grantee:Fábio Perin de Sá
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


Reproductive isolation is a mechanism associated with diversification. Ecophenotypic incompatibilities act as pre-zygotic mechanisms, typically associated with sexual selection pressures. When those barriers are non-existent or ineffective, post-zygotic isolation mechanisms (chromosomal or genomic incompatibilities) may occur, promoting low hybrids adaptability. The reinforcement theory postulates that natural selection intensifies isolation by debilitating hybrids. However, empirical evidences are scarce and the actual relevance of this theory is unclear, with studies rarely combining geographic, ecophenotypic, and genomic structures. Barker frogs, Neotropical anurans from the Physalaemus cuvieri-P. ephippifer clade (Leptodactylidae, Leiuperinae), show ecophenotypic similarities, but complex chromosomal variability and multiple well-structured genetic lineages. Ecophenotypic similarities may hinder interspecific distinction, mitigating pre-zygotic isolation in such a way that post-zygotic barriers might be critical to maintain species distinction. Thus, P. cuvieri-P. ephippifer is an excellent system for better understanding sexual selection and reinforcement roles for reproductive isolation and diversification in Neotropical anurans. Our project proposes precisely to understand the diversification in lineages of the subclade from the species transitional zone, testing sexual selection and reinforcement roles for reproductive isolation. Using ecophenotypic and molecular data, we aim to understand: (I) the lineages population structure; (II) the pre-zygotic isolation mechanisms, testing preferences during mate choices; and (III) the post-zygotic isolation mechanisms, testing the viability of induced crosses.

News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: