Tests of reproductive isolation among species in the Fundulus notatus (Cyprinodontiformes: Fundulidae) species complex

Patrick A. Vigueira, Clemson University
Jacob F. Schaefer, University of Southern Mississippi
David D. Duvernell, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Brian R. Kreiser, University of Southern Mississippi


We assessed prezygotic (probability of spawning) and postzygotic (hatching success) reproductive isolation among the three ecologically and morphologically similar species in the Fundulus notatus species complex. We employed a multi-generation breeding experiment to test the hypotheses that karyotypic differences, body size differences, or geographic isolation among populations will increase pre or postzygotic reproductive barriers. Overall, prezygotic barriers were strong and postzygotic barriers weak in crosses of non-hybrid heterospecifics (F1 hybrid crosses) while prezygotic barriers were weaker and postzygotic barriers stronger in crosses involving hybrid individuals (F2 hybrid crosses and backcrosses). Prezygotic barriers among the two smaller species (Fundulus notatus and F. euryzonus) broke down rapidly; first generation hybrids spawned (F2 hybrid crosses and backcrosses) as frequently as parental forms in intraspecific crosses. There was no increase in postzygotic barriers among species with cytogenetic differences. There were increased prezygotic, but not postzygotic, barriers among geographically isolated populations of one species. While pure males and females were just as likely to spawn with hybrids, some types of hybrid females suffered from increased sterility, but not inviability, over hybrid males. Female sterility was only seen in hybrids with a Fundulus euryzonus parent, while other female hybrids produced viable eggs.