The importance of ecological and behavioural data in studies of hybridisation among marine fishes
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© 2016, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.Natural hybridisation is a widespread phenomenon, particularly well documented in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, where it has been ascribed substantial evolutionary and adaptive relevance. Hybridisation has received comparatively less attention in marine systems, though there has been a recent surge of reported marine hybrids, particularly among corals and fishes. This review summarises the current knowledge of hybridisation in marine fishes, with a focus on ecological and behavioural factors that may play a role in hybridisation processes. Rarity of one or both parental species within the hybrid zone, overlap in habitat use, dietary overlap and the breakdown in assortative mating appear to have a role in facilitating hybridisation. Despite this, most of the recent literature on marine fish hybridisation has a strong genetic focus, with little or no quantitative information about the ecological and behavioural factors that initiate or facilitate hybridisation. Future studies should attempt to gather ecological and behavioural data from hybrid zones, thus teasing out which processes are most relevant to overcoming pre-zygotic barriers to reproductive isolation. Not only will this advance our understanding of the adaptive and evolutionary relevance of hybridisation in marine fishes, but it will also provide unique insights into the maintenance of reproductive isolation and the process of speciation in the marine environment.
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