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1 February 2014 Current and Historical Extent of Phenotypic Variation in the Tufted and Black-crested Titmouse (Paridae) Hybrid Zone in the Southern Great Plains
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Abstract

Hybrid zones, where phenotypically distinct populations interbreed, should expand or contract until reaching a balance between selection and dispersal. Few studies examine multiple contacts within one species complex to compare how their extent changes over time. Black-crested and Tufted Titmice (Baeolophus atricristatus and B. bicolor) hybridize extensively within a narrow zone in Texas and southwestern Oklahoma. In Texas, hybridization has been occurring for several thousands of years, while evidence suggests the southwestern Oklahoma contact is more recent, beginning within the past century. We quantify plumage and morphology of the two species across both the younger and older hybrid zones and compare the current and historical extent of phenotypic variation in the older Texas contact with that in the younger Oklahoma contact. Variation in plumage between species is similar in the younger and older contacts, while overlap in morphological characters is broader in the older contact. Recently and historically surveyed transects in the older zone have similar cline widths, indicating selection, at least on crest and forehead plumage, has reached equilibrium with dispersal over the time periods involved (comparing both the historically surveyed data from 1955 vs. the recently surveyed data from the 2000s in Texas). In the recently surveyed younger Oklahoma contact, cline width is narrower, indicating potential for expansion if it follows the course of the older contact. This temporal complexity should make this species complex a productive system for future work, using plumage and additional traits such as song and genetics, on the relative influences of both natural and sexual selection on the evolution of reproductive isolation.

2013, American Midland Naturalist
Claire M. Curry and Michael A. Patten "Current and Historical Extent of Phenotypic Variation in the Tufted and Black-crested Titmouse (Paridae) Hybrid Zone in the Southern Great Plains," The American Midland Naturalist 171(2), 271-300, (1 February 2014). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-171.2.271
Received: 14 May 2013; Accepted: 1 November 2013; Published: 1 February 2014
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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