Molecular evidence of a peripatric origin for two sympatric species of field cricket (Gryllus rubens and G. texensis) revealed from coalescent simulations and population genetic tests

Species pairs that differ primarily in characters involved in mating interactions and are largely sympatric raise intriguing questions about the mode of speciation. When species divergence is relatively recent, the footprint of the demographic history during speciation might be preserved and used to reconstruct the biogeography of species divergence. In this study, patterns of genetic variation were examined throughout the geographical range of two cryptic sister taxa of field crickets, Gryllus texensis and G. rubens; mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) was sequenced in 365 individuals sampled from 48 localities. Despite significant molecular divergence between the species, they were not reciprocally monophyletic. We devised several analyses to statistically explore what historical processes might have given rise to this genealogical structure. The analyses indicated that the biogeographical pattern of genetic variation does not support a model of recent gene flow between species. Instead, coalescent simulations suggested that the genealogical structure within G. texensis, namely a deep split between two geographically overlapping clades, reflects historical substructure within G. texensis. Additional tests that consider the concentration of G. rubens haplotypes in one of the two G. texensis genetic clusters suggest a model of speciation in which G. rubens was derived from one lineage of a geographically subdivided ancestor. These results indicate that, despite the contemporary sympatry of G. texensis and G. rubens, the data are indicative of an peripatric origin in which G. rubens was derived from one of the two historical partitions in the species currently recognized as G. texensis. This proposed model of species divergence suggests how the interplay of geography and selection may give rise to new species, although this requires testing with multilocus data. Specifically, the model highlights how that geographical partitioning of ancestral variation in the past may augment the selectively driven divergence of characters involved in the reproductive isolation of the species today.