Bottlenecks and blowflies Speciation, reproduction and morphological variation in Lucilia

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This thesis attempts to improve our understanding of the role of population size for the process of speciation. First, the effect of population size on speciation is studied using several meta-analyses of published laboratory experiments. Second, the effect of population size on behaviour is studied using a laboratory population of the blowfly Lucilia sericata. Third, the effect of population size on morphological and genetic variation is studied using wings and microsatellites from wild populations of L. illustris as well as experimentally bottlenecked populations of L. sericata. The meta-analyses showed that the result of many previous laboratory experiments on sympatric and parapatric speciation may have been biased by too small population sizes. Reduced interbreeding was less likely to develop in small populations where the selection against hybridisation often seemed to have been opposed by inbreeding depression or loss of genetic variation. In allopatric speciation experiments, no general consistent effect of population size was observed. There was no support for speciation through founder events. In fact, significant assortative mating was only found in vicariance experiments where derived populations was tested against each other. Population size influenced reproductive behaviour in L. sericata. There was a positive effect of increasing number of males on egg-laying but only as long as the female was in the company of at least one other female. Female mate choice and a positive effect of number of eggs on larval survival are suggested to be the underlying factors. No historic bottlenecks could be detected in the fly populations, but strong genetic indications suggest a fine grained genetic population structure of wild Lucilia flies. Bottlenecks had unpredictable effects on wing morphology as well as on genetic variation and fitness in a laboratory stock of L. sericata. Thus a bottlenecked population will not necessarily have a higher chance of evolving morphological novelties than one which has not undergone a bottleneck. However, among many bottlenecked populations there is a good chance that in at least one of them the conditions will be conducive to morphological change and evolution. In this statistical sense, thus, strong population fluctuations may enhance the probability of speciation events.