Sympatric populations can diverge when variation in phenology or life cycle causes them to mate at distinctly different times. We report patterns consistent with this process (allochronic speciation) in North American gall-forming aphids, in the absence of a host or habitat shift. Pemphigus populi-transversus Riley and P. obesinymphae Aoki form a monophyletic clade within the North American Pemphigus group. They are sympatric on the eastern cottonwood, Populus deltoides (Salicaceae), but have distinctly different life cycles, with sexual stages offset by approximately six months. Field evidence indicates that intermediate phenotypes do not commonly occur, and mitochondrial and bacterial endosymbiont DNA sequences show no maternal gene flow between the two species. Because a genetically distinct population of P. obesinymphae occurs in the southwestern United States on Populus fremontii, we consider the possibility of an initial allopatric phase in the divergence. We discuss the likely origins of the host use patterns in P. obesinymphae, and the larger sequence of evolutionary changes that likely led to the sympatric divergence of P. populi-transversus and P. obesinymphae. A plausible interpretation at this stage of investigation is that a shift in timing of the life cycle in an ancestral population, correlated with an underlying phenological complexity in its host plant, spurred divergence between the incipient species.
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