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Data from: Simulated evolution of mating signal diversification in a primate radiation

Cite this dataset

Winters, Sandra; Higham, James P. (2022). Data from: Simulated evolution of mating signal diversification in a primate radiation [Dataset]. Dryad.


Divergence in allopatry and subsequent diversification of mating signals on secondary contact (reinforcement) is a major driver of phenotypic diversity. Observing this evolutionary process directly is often impossible, but simulated evolution can pinpoint key drivers of phenotypic variation. We developed evolutionary simulations in which mating signals, modelled as points in phenotype space, evolve across time under varying evolutionary scenarios. We model mate recognition signals in guenons, a primate radiation exhibiting colourful and diverse face patterns hypothesized to maintain reproductive isolation via mate choice. We simulate face pattern evolution across periods of allopatry and sympatry, identifying the role of key parameters in driving evolutionary endpoints. Results show that diversification in allopatry and assortative mate choice on secondary contact can induce rapid phenotypic diversification, resulting in distinctive (between species) and stereotyped (within species) face patterns, similar to extant guenons. Strong selection against hybrids is key to diversification, with even low levels of hybrid fitness often resulting in merged populations on secondary contact. Our results support a key role for reinforcement by assortative mating in the maintenance of species diversity and support the long-proposed prehistorical scenario for how such striking diversity was produced and maintained in perhaps the most colourful of all mammalian clades.


National Science Foundation, Award: 1613378

American Society of Primatologists

New York University