A Blow Against Hybrid Speciation?


A recent flurry of papers (reviewed here) have presented evidence for homoploid hybrid speciation in insects — one in Rhagoletis (a fruit fly) and two in butterflies (one in Heliconius and one in Lycaeides). The Rhagoletis paper showed that a hybrid species formed from two other species — one that feeds on snowberries and one that feeds on blueberries — native to North America. The hybrid species feeds on an invasive honeysuckle that was introduced from Asia within the last couple of centuries.

The paper on Heliconius butterflies described a hybrid between H. melpomene and H. cydno which has an intermediate wing pattern. The researchers were able to recreate the hybrid species (H. heurippa) in the lab, which is pretty cool. Finally, the paper on Lycaeides showed that a hybrid species in western North America is adapted to alpine environment in the Sierra Nevadas.

A new study on another potential hybrid between H. melpomene and H. cydno. This species, H. pachinus (shown above), which was suspected to have arisen in a similar manner as H. heurippa, turns out to be a close relative of H. cydno. How boring. That means it arose via the tradition bifurcating process. Is there now a cottage industry made up of people desperately searching for more examples of hybrid speciation?


  1. #1 Kevin Zelnio
    April 5, 2007

    Thats so lame. Interspecies sex is way more racy than bifurcation.

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