Sex-specific clines support incipient speciation in a common European mammal

Sutter, A.; Beysard, M.; Heckel, G. (2013). Sex-specific clines support incipient speciation in a common European mammal. Heredity, 110(4), pp. 398-404. Oliver and Boyd 10.1038/hdy.2012.124

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Hybrid zones provide excellent opportunities to study processes and mechanisms underlying reproductive isolation and speciation. Here we investigated sex-specific clines of molecular markers in hybrid zones of morphologically cryptic yet genetically highly-diverged evolutionary lineages of the European common vole (Microtus arvalis). We analyzed the position and width of four secondary contact zones along three independent transects in the region of the Alps using maternally (mitochondrial DNA) and paternally (Y-chromosome) inherited genetic markers. Given male-biased dispersal in the common vole, a selectively neutral secondary contact would show broader paternal marker clines than maternal ones. In a selective case, for example, involving a form of Haldane’s rule, Y-chromosomal clines would not be expected to be broader than maternal markers because they are transmitted by the heterogametic sex and thus gene flow would be restricted. Consistent with the selective case, paternal clines were significantly narrower or at most equal in width to maternal clines in all contact zones. In addition, analyses using maximum likelihood cline-fitting detected a shift of paternal relative to maternal clines in three of four contact zones. These patterns suggest that processes at the contact zones in the common vole are not selectively neutral, and that partial reproductive isolation is already established between these evolutionary lineages. We conclude that hybrid zone movement, sexual selection and/or genetic incompatibilities are likely associated with an unusual unidirectional manifestation of Haldane’s rule in this common European mammal.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Population Genetics

UniBE Contributor:

Beysard, Mathias and Heckel, Gerald


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Oliver and Boyd




Isabelle Duperret

Date Deposited:

24 Apr 2014 08:38

Last Modified:

24 Apr 2014 08:38

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

cline analyses, Microtus arvalis, secondary contact zone, Haldane’s rule, Y-chromosome; speciation


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