Understanding the biological conditions and the genetic basis of early stages of sexual isolation and speciation is an outstanding question in evolutionary biology. It is unclear how much genetic and phenotypic variation for mating preferences and their phenotypic cues is segregating within widespread and human-commensal species in nature. A recent case of incipient sexual isolation between Zimbabwe and cosmopolitan populations of the human-commensal fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster indicates that such species may initiate the process of sexual isolation. However, it is still unknown whether other geographical populations have undergone evolution of mating preferences. In this study we present new data on multiple-choice mating tests revealing partial sexual isolation between the United States and Caribbean populations. We relate our findings to African populations, showing that Caribbean flies are partially sexually isolated from Zimbabwe flies, but mate randomly with West African flies, which also show partial sexual isolation from the United States and Zimbabwe flies. Thus, Caribbean and West African populations seem to exhibit distinct mating preferences relative to populations in the United States and in Zimbabwe. These results suggest that widespread and human-commensal species may harbor different types of mating preferences across their geographical ranges.
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Vol. 62 • No. 8