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Parasites and Host Species Barriers in Animal Hybrid Zones

Theodosopoulos, Angela N., Hund, Amanda K., Taylor, Scott A.
Trends in ecology & evolution 2019 v.34 no.1 pp. 19-30
animals, gene flow, genomics, geography, habitats, hosts, hybrids, introgression, parasites, parasitism, pathogens
Species barriers are tested in hybrid zones when gene flow occurs between hybridizing species. Hybridization can erode species barriers, lead to the introgression of adaptive traits, or remain stable through time. Outcomes in hybrid zones are influenced by divergence between the hybridizing taxa, behavior, ecology, and geography. Parasites and pathogens play a major role in host fitness and appear to have varied impacts on species barriers in hybrid zones. We comprehensively reviewed the literature on parasitism in animal hybrid zones and present an evolutionary framework within which to consider parasite–hybrid interactions. Parasites most frequently show potential to contribute to species barrier breakdown in hybrid zones, but also frequently show potential to facilitate the maintenance of species barriers. Incorporating eco-immunology, parasite community theory, and spatiotemporal approaches will be important as genomic tools allow researchers to examine parasites and hybrid zones at greater resolution and in a diversity of natural habitats.