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A Coevolutionary Arms Race Causes Ecological Speciation in Crossbills

1. Department of Biology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003;2. Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071

We examined three ecological factors potentially causing premating reproductive isolation to determine whether divergent selection as a result of coevolution between South Hills crossbills (Loxia curvirostra complex) and Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta latifolia) promotes ecological speciation. One factor was habitat isolation arising because of enhanced seed defenses of lodgepole pine in the South Hills. This caused the crossbill call types (morphologically and vocally differentiated forms) adapted to alternative resources to be rare. Another occurred when crossbills of other call types moved into the South Hills late in the breeding season and feeding conditions were deteriorating so that relatively few non–South Hills crossbills bred (“immigrant infecundity”). Finally, among those crossbills that bred, pairing was strongly assortative by call type (behavioral isolation). Total reproductive isolation between South Hills crossbills and the two other crossbills most common in the South Hills (call types 2 and 5) summed to .9975 and .9998, respectively, on a scale of 0 (no reproductive isolation) to 1 (complete reproductive isolation). These extremely high levels of reproductive isolation indicate that the divergent selection resulting from the coevolutionary arms race between crossbills and lodgepole pine is causing the South Hills crossbill to speciate.