Current Zoology(formerly Acta Zoologica Sinica),    2012, 58(3): 510 - 516
Title: Sexual selection and magic traits in speciation with gene flow
Authors: Maria R. SERVEDIO, Michael KOPP
 D e p a r t m e n t   o f   B i o l o g y ,   U n i v e r s i t y   o f   N o r t h   C a r o l i n a , U S A 
Abstract: The extent to which sexual selection is involved in speciation with gene flow remains an open question and the subject of much research. Here, we propose that some insight can be gained from considering the concept of magic traits (i.e., traits involved in both reproductive isolation and ecological divergence). Both magic traits and other,non-magic, traits can contribute to speciation via a number of specific mechanisms. We argue that many of these mechanisms are likely to differ widely in the extent to which they involve sexual selection. Furthermore, in some cases where sexual selection is present, it may be prone to inhibit rather than drive speciation. Finally, there are a priori reasons to believe that certain categories of traits are much more effective than others in driving speciation. The combination of these points suggests a classification of traits that may shed light on the broader role of sexual selection in speciation with gene flow. In particular, we suggest that sexual selection can act as a driver of speciation in some scenarios, but may play a negligible role in potentially common categories of magic traits, and may be likely to inhibit speciation in common categories of non-magic traits [Current Zoology 58 (3): 507–513, 2012].
Keywords: Assortative mating, Divergent selection, Ecological selection, Mating cues, Non-random mating, Preferences

*Correspondence should be addressed to Maria R. SERVEDIO (

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