Twomey, Evan3; Vestergaard, Jacob Schack1; Summers, Kyle3
1 Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Technical University of Denmark2 East Carolina University3 East Carolina University
In a mimetic radiation—when a single species evolves to resemble different model species—mimicry can drive within-species morphological diversification, and, potentially, speciation. While mimetic radiations have occurred in a variety of taxa, their role in speciation remains poorly understood. We study the Peruvian poison frog Ranitomeya imitator, a species that has undergone a mimetic radiation into four distinct morphs. Using a combination of colour–pattern analysis, landscape genetics and mate-choice experiments, we show that a mimetic shift in R. imitator is associated with a narrow phenotypic transition zone, neutral genetic divergence and assortative mating, suggesting that divergent selection to resemble different model species has led to a breakdown in gene flow between these two populations. These results extend the effects of mimicry on speciation into a vertebrate system and characterize an early stage of speciation where reproductive isolation between mimetic morphs is incomplete but evident.