PerspectiveEvolutionary Biology

Shallow ponds prompt fitness-favorable species interbreeding

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Science  20 Mar 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6484, pp. 1304-1305
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb2398

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If there is one thing that biologists used to agree on, it was that mating between two animals of different species yields unfavorable results. (Plants have a dodgy reputation for insouciant polyploidy and hence have often been ignored.) Basic biology classes teach that different species usually cannot interbreed successfully and that rarely produced crossbred offspring (hybrids) are often infertile or of lower fitness. Now, on page 1377 of this issue, Chen and Pfennig (1) contradict conventional wisdom about the disadvantages of hybridization and provide a connection between species diversification, sexual selection, and, ultimately, the context dependence of behavioral evolution.

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