Molly Schumer, Rongfeng Cui, Gil G Rosenthal, Peter Andolfatto
Despite its role in homogenizing populations, hybridization has also been proposed as a means to generate new species. The conceptual basis for this idea is that hybridization can result in novel phenotypes through recombination between the parental genomes, allowing a hybrid population to occupy ecological niches unavailable to parental species. A key feature of these models is that these novel phenotypes ecologically isolate hybrid populations from parental populations, precipitating speciation. Here we present an alternative model of the evolution of reproductive isolation in hybrid populations that occurs as a simple consequence of selection against incompatibilities. Unlike previous models, our model does not require small population sizes, the availability of new niches for hybrids or ecological or sexual selection on hybrid traits. We show that reproductive isolation between hybrids and parents evolves frequently and rapidly under this model, even in the presence of ongoing migration with parental species and strong selection against hybrids. Our model predicts that multiple distinct hybrid species can emerge from replicate hybrid populations formed from the same parental species, potentially generating patterns of species diversity and relatedness that mimic adaptive radiations.