Meeting Abstract

15.4  Friday, Jan. 4  Pheromone Evolution and Reproductive Isolation in Dusky Salamanders STEFFEN, MA*; BONETT, RM; University of Tulsa

Conspecific mate recognition signals can delimit species boundaries and structure communities. However, signals and mate choice are evolutionarily labile, and few studies have examined the impact of signal discordance on lineage diversification in adaptive radiations. Salamanders produce highly variable, proteinaceous courtship pheromones. Dusky salamanders of the genus Desmognathus are endemic to eastern North America, and display dramatic disparity in ecology, body size and life history. However, some distantly related species are highly convergent in these traits, and behavioral studies have shown varying degrees of prezygotic isolation among divergent, yet ecologically similar species. In this study, we analyze the transcripts of pheromone genes (plethodon modulating factor and sodefrin precursor factor) in Desmognathus. We specifically test how convergence and introgression play a role in the geographic distributions of these pheromones, and if pheromone divergence is correlated with patterns of behavioral reproductive compatibility or isolation.