The distributions of southern African (Tockus erythrorhynchus rufirostris) and Damaraland (T. e. damarensis) Red-billed Hornbills overlap in northern Namibia. Allopatric populations of the taxa have diagnosable differences in habitat, morphology, vocalizations, and displays. We investigated the structure of the hybrid zone using data from morphology, behavior, and breeding biology. The morphological characteristics—eye color and facial plumage color—were summarized as hybrid index scores, which showed a significant positive regression against distance from southwest to northeast across the hybrid zone. Vocalizations also showed a positive relationship between the first principal component (extracted from 12 call variables) and distance across the hybrid zone. However, there appears to be introgression of a T. e. damarensis call into T. e. rufirostris, but not vice versa. In addition, female T. e. damarensis-male T. e. rufirostris breeding pairs occur more frequently than male T. e. damarensis-female T. e. rufirostris pairs. The asymmetrical call introgression may result either from asymmetry in mating or from genetic control of call inheritance. Finally, heterospecific pairs show lower fitness, in the form of reduced hatching success, even when female fitness attributes are included as covariates. Although we are uncertain whether the Red-billed Hornbill hybrid zone is stable, the apparent biological processes operating within it conform to predictions of both the “mosaic” and the “tension zone” models, because both habitat characteristics and a balance of dispersal and selection appear to determine its structure.
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