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Oscillation of an anuran hybrid zone: morphological evidence spanning 50 years.


ABSTRACT: The hybrid zone between the primarily forest-dwelling American toad, Anaxyrus americanus, and the prairie-adapted Canadian toad, A. hemiophrys, in southeastern Manitoba is known to have shifted its position during the past 50 years. Hybrid zones are areas of interbreeding between species and their movement across a landscape should reflect their underlying dynamics and environmental change. However, empirical demonstrations of hybrid zone movements over long periods of time are rare. This hybrid zone is dominated by individuals of intermediate morphology and genetic composition. We sought to determine if it had continued to move and if that movement was associated with shifts in habitat, as predicted.We used variation in the toads' most diagnostic morphological feature, the separation between their interorbital cranial crests, to determine the geographic position of the hybrid zone center at four times between 1960 and 2009 using maximum likelihood methods. The hybrid zone center moved west by 38 km over 19 years and then east again by 10 km over the succeeding 29 years. The position of the hybrid zone did not track either the direction or the magnitude of movement of the forest-prairie habitat transition over the same time period.This is the first reported evidence of oscillation in the position of a hybrid zone. The back and forth movement indicates that neither species maintains a selective advantage over the other in the long term. However, the movement of the hybrid zone was not bounded by the breadth of the habitat transition. Its oscillation suggests that the hybrid zone is better described as being elastically tethered to the habitat transition.

SUBMITTER: Roy JS 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3530495 | BioStudies | 2012-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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