Behavioural divergence, interfertility and speciation: a review

Pillay, Neville, and Rymer, Tasmin L. (2012) Behavioural divergence, interfertility and speciation: a review. Behavioural Processes, 91 (3). pp. 223-235.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Behavioural compatibility between mates is fundamental for maintaining species boundaries and is achieved through appropriate communication between males and females. A breakdown in communication will lead to behavioural divergence and reduced interfertility. In this review, we summarise the current knowledge on male signals and female perception of these signals, integrating the literature from several taxa. We advocate that signaller–perceiver coevolution, which is usually under strong stabilising selection to enable mating, forms the basis of species-specific mate recognition systems. The mechanisms (phylogeny, geography, ecology, biology) shaping signaller–perceiver systems are briefly discussed to demonstrate the factors underpinning the evolution of signaller–perceiver couplings. Since divergence and diversification of communication systems is driven by changes in the mechanical properties of sensory pathways and morphology of sensory organs, we highlight signal modalities (auditory, olfactory, visual, tactile) and their importance in communication, particularly in mate selection. Next, using available examples and generating a stylised model, we suggest how disruption (biological, ecological, stochastic) of signaller–perceiver systems drives behavioural divergence and consequently results in reduced interfertility and speciation. Future studies should adopt an integrative approach, combining multiple parameters (phylogeny, adaptive utility of communication systems, genetics and biomechanical/biochemical properties of signals and perception) to explore how disruption of signaller–perceiver systems results in behavioural divergence and reduced interfertility. Finally, we question the impact that rapid environmental change will have on disruption of communication systems, potentially interfering with signaller–perceiver couplings.

Item ID: 32665
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-8308
Keywords: communication, gene flow, rapid environmental change, signal–perceiver coevolution, signals, speciation
Funders: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 00:57
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 10%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060311 Speciation and Extinction @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 80%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 20%
Downloads: Total: 3
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page