Central to our understanding of the species concept is knowledge of the nature and evolution of reproductive isolating mechanisms. The once widely accepted model of Dobzhansky, which holds that isolation evolves through selection against hybrids of differentially adapted populations, is now largely rejected. This rejection is due to both theoretical difficulties and a paucity of examples of the predicted pattern of reproductive character displacement. From a survey of five families of Lepidoptera, entailing more than 800 species, evidence is given that male courtship pheromones have evolved within the context of sexual isolation as an adaptive response to mating mistakes between differentially adapted populations; however, distinct from the natural selection model of Dobzhansky, this report suggests the mechanism for change to be sexual selection.
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