Various models purporting to explain natural hybrid zones make different assumptions about the fitness of hybrids. One class of models assumes that hybrids have intrinsically low fitness due to genetic incompatibilities, whereas other models allow hybrid fitness to vary across natural environments. We used the intrinsic rate of increase to assess lifetime fitness of hybrids between two species of montane plants Ipomopsis aggregata and Ipomopsis tenuituba planted as seed into multiple field environments. Because fitness is predicted to depend upon genetic composition of the hybrids, we included F1 hybrids, F2 hybrids, and backcrosses in our field tests. The F2 hybrids had female fitness as high, or higher, than expected under an additive model of fitness. These results run counter to any model of hybrid zone dynamics that relies solely on intrinsic nuclear genetic incompatibilities. Instead, we found that selection was environmentally dependent. In this hybrid zone, cytoplasmic effects and genotype-by-environment interactions appear more important in lowering hybrid fitness than do intrinsic genomic incompatibilities between nuclear genes.
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Vol. 62 • No. 10