A test of the sympatric host race formation hypothesis in Neodiprion (Hymenoptera: Diprionidae)

Catherine R. Linnen, Brian D. Farrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Theory suggests that sympatric speciation is possible; however, its prevalence in nature remains unknown. Because Neodiprion sawflies are host specialists and mate on their hosts, sympatric speciation via host shifts may be common in this genus. Here, we test this hypothesis using near-complete taxonomic sampling of a species group, comprehensive geographical and ecological data, and multiple comparative methods. Host-use data suggest that host shifts contributed to the evolution of reproductive isolation in Neodiprion and previous work has shown that gene flow accompanied divergence. However, geographical data provide surprisingly little support for the hypothesis that host shifts occurred in sympatry. While these data do not rule out sympatric host race formation in Neodiprion, they suggest that this speciation mode is uncommon in the genus and possibly in nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3131-3138
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1697
StatePublished - Oct 22 2010


  • Age-range correlation test
  • Host race
  • Host shift
  • Neodiprion
  • Phytophagous insect
  • Sympatric speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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