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The evolution of male and female mating preferences in Drosophila speciation.

Abstract

The relative importance of male and female mating preferences in causing sexual isolation between species remains a major unresolved question in speciation. Despite previous work showing that male courtship bias and/or female copulation bias for conspecifics occur in many taxa, the present study is one of the first large-scale works to study their relative divergence. To achieve this, we used data from the literature and present experiments across 66 Drosophila species pairs. Our results revealed that male and female mate preferences are both ubiquitous in Drosophila but evolved largely independently, suggesting different underlying evolutionary and genetic mechanisms. Moreover, their relative divergence strongly depends on the geographical relationship of species. Between allopatric species, male courtship and female copulation preferences diverged at very similar rates, evolving approximately linearly with time of divergence. In sharp contrast, between sympatric species pairs, female preferences diverged much more rapidly than male preferences and were the only drivers of enhanced sexual isolation in sympatry and Reproductive Character Displacement (RCD). Not only does this result suggest that females are primarily responsible for such processes as reinforcement, but it also implies that evolved female preferences may reduce selection for further divergence of male courtship preferences in sympatry.