Faculty Publications and Presentations

Publication Date


Document Type



Published in The Auk 122:759-772.


Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and Carolina Chickadees (P. carolinensis) hybridize in an east-west band from New Jersey to Kansas. Within the past century, the Ohio portion of this hybrid /one and the Carolina Chickadee range to the south have been moving northward, whereas the Black-capped Chickadee range has retracted. In Ohio, we characterized the genetic composition of the hybrid zone using five diagnostic molecular loci. Although there was no evidence of assortative mating in the center of the hybrid zone, we found a relative paucity of genetically intermediate breeding females as compared with breeding males. That suggests viability selection against female hybrids, in line with Haldane's rule. On the basis of reproductive variables (number of nestlings, reproductive success), we found a decrease in productivity of breeding pairs in the hybrid zone that is significantly and positively related to their probability of producing homozygous offspring at each autosomal or sex-linked locus. We also found that the decrease in productivity was significantly and positively related to the genetic composition of the male of the pair {i.e. pure male chickadees more productive). These data strongly suggest that hybrids are at a selective disadvantage. Because the zone of reduced reproductive success was considerably narrower than the zone of introgression, our results demonstrate that genetic introgression is occurring in the face of substantial selection against hybrids.