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Picky female frogs drive evolution of new species in less than 8,000 years

ontact between northern and southern lineages, and we speculate that this may be due to gene flow from the extensive range of the southern lineage into the contact zone," Hoskin said. "This problem does not exist at the other contact because the southern lineage population is very small and occurs primarily within the contact zone."

Because the frogs in the isolated contact area had a distinctively different call, and because they were effectively isolated from surrounding populations by mating preference, Hoskin and colleagues concluded that female choice led to this new species.

Interestingly, evolutionary theory would predict that the southern and northern frog populations would drift apart into two distinct species. In the case of the green-eyed tree frog, Moritz said, a subpopulation of the southern species drifted away not only from the northern species, but also from the southern. That was unexpected, he said.

Moritz noted that geographic isolation in this "dinky bit of rainforest in Australia" has split many species, and that reinforcement at zones of recontact may be generating other new species.

"In this tropical system, we have had long periods of isolation between populations, and each one, when they come back together, have got a separate evolutionary experiment going on. And some of those pan out and some don't. But if they head off in different directions, the products themselves can be new species. And I think that's kinda cool. It gives us a mechanism for very rapid speciation."


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Source:University of California - Berkeley


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