Although there are several well-established hypotheses for the origins of postmating isolation during allopatric divergence, there have been very few attempts to determine their relative importance in nature. We have developed an approach based on knowledge of the differing evolutionary histories of populations within species that allows systematic comparison of the predictions of these hypotheses. In previous work, we have applied this methodology to mating signal variation and premating reproductive isolation between populations of the meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus. Here we review the principles behind our approach and report a study measuring postmating isolation in the same set of populations. The populations have known and differing evolutionary histories and relationships resulting from the colonization of northern Europe following the last glaciation. We use a maximum-likelihood analysis to compare the observed pattern of postmating isolation with the predictions of the hypotheses that isolation primarily evolves either as a result of gradual accumulation of mutations in allopatry, or through processes associated with colonization, such as founder events. We also quantify the extent to which degree of postmating isolation can be predicted by genetic distance. Our results suggest that although there is only a weak correlation between genetic distance and postmating isolation, long periods of allopatry do lead to postmating isolation. In contrast to the pattern of premating isolation described in our previous study, colonization does not seem to be associated with increased postmating isolation.
- Premating isolation