We analyzed a hybrid zone between two chromosome races (2n = 16 and 2n = 22) of a Japanese harvestman, Gagrellopsis nodulifera Sato and Suzuki (Arachnida: Opiliones: Phalangiidae). The hybrid zone is located in the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture, western Honshu. The width of the zone is approximately 5 to 15 km. Three independent tandem fusions/fissions seem to be the main cause of the karyotypic differences between the parental races. Ten karyotypic variants were found in the hybrid zone. They differed by numbers of diploid chromosomes and trivalents detected in meiosis. In most of the collecting sites, karyotypic heterozygotes were less common than expected. A positive correlation was found between number of trivalents in a karyotype and its deficiency rate. In some sites, the deficit of heterozygous individuals was accompanied by an excess of the intermediate homozygotes. One of the three transects across the zone was studied in detail. We found that three types of single heterozygotes (2n = 17, 2n = 19 and 2n = 21) formed a series of successive, spatially separated peaks along the transect. Two types of intermediate homozygotes (2n = 18 and 2n = 20) were also spatially separated. The most parsimonious explanation of such a structure is the staggering of clines of three tandem (or Robertsonian) fusion/fission variants that differentiate the parental races caused by selection against multiple heterozygotes. Analysis of nondisjunction in single heterozygotes demonstrated that there was a strong interindividual variation in nondisjunction rate. The mean frequency of aneuploid MII in single heterozygotes was 0.10 ± 0.03. Crossover exchanges in some critical regions of trivalents result in abnormal chromosomal configurations: chromosomes with unequal chromatids and dicentric chromosomes. Frequency of crossover-induced chromosomal abnormalities was low in single heterozygotes (≃ 4%), and was unexpectedly high in the double heterozygotes (≃ 15%). Selection against karyotypic heterozygotes is considered as a main evolutionary force responsible for the structuring of the hybrid zone. A positive association between diploid chromosome number and altitude was found. The race 2n = 16 tended to occupy lower altitudes than the 2n = 22 parental race. Differences in ecological preferences may be a result of previous adaptations to different environments in allopatry. A hypothesis concerning the origin and evolution of the hybrid zone is proposed.
Corresponding Editor: J. Mallet