Intermediate kinematics produce inferior feeding performance in a classic case of natural hybridization

Matthew D. McGee, Joseph W. Reustle, Christopher E. Oufiero, Peter C. Wainwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Selection on naturally occurring hybrid individuals is a key component of speciation theory, but few studies examine the functional basis of hybrid performance. We examine the functional consequences of hybridization in nature, using the freshwater sunfishes (Centrarchidae), where natural hybrids have been studied for more than a century and a half. We examined bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), and their naturally occurring hybrid, using prey-capture kinematics and morphology to parameterize suction-feeding simulations on divergent parental resources. Hybrid individuals exhibited kinematics intermediate between those of the two parental species. However, performance assays indicated that hybrids display performance most similar to the worse-performing species for a given parental resource. Our results show that intermediate hybrid phenotypes can be impaired by a lessthan-intermediate performance and hence suffer a larger loss in fitness than could be inferred from morphology alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-814
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecological speciation
  • Extrinsic postzygotic isolation
  • Functional morphology
  • Suction feeding

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