The contributions of genetic and environmental factors to differential reproductive success across hybrid zones have rarely been tested. Here, we report a manipulative experiment that simultaneously tested endogenous (genetic-based) and exogenous (environmental-based) selection within a hybrid zone. We transplanted mated pairs of two chickadee species (Poecile atricapilla and P. carolinensis) and their hybrids into isolated woodlots within their hybrid zone and monitored their reproductive success. Although clutch sizes were similar, based on an estimate of the genetic compatibility of a pair, hybrid pairs produced fewer nestlings and fledglings than did pairs of either parental species. According to a linear model generated from the data, a pure pair of either parental species would be expected to produce 1.91–2.48 times more fledglings per nesting attempt, respectively, than the average or least compatible pair in the experiment. Our result of decreased reproduction for hybrid pairs relative to parental species pairs within same environment (the hybrid zone in this experiment) support the endogenous selection hypothesis for maintenance of this hybrid zone. Because the experiment was conducted entirely within the hybrid zone (i.e., the same environment for parental and hybrid pairings), our data do not support the exogenous selection hypothesis as it predicts either all pairings doing poorly or the hybrid pairs more successful than the parental pairs.
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Vol. 57 • No. 3