The effect of experimental hybridization on cognition and brain anatomy: limited phenotypic variation and transgression in Poeciliidae

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 1 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.


Download Preprint


Catarina Vila Pouca, Hannah De Waele, Alexander Kotrschal


Hybridization can promote phenotypic variation and often produces trait combinations distinct from the parental species. This increase in available variation can lead to the manifestation of functional novelty when new phenotypes bear adaptive value under the environmental conditions in which they occur. While the role of hybridization as a driver of variation and novelty in traits linked to fitness is well recognized, it remains largely unknown whether hybridization can fuel behavioural novelty by promoting phenotypic variation in brain morphology and/or cognitive traits. To address this question, we investigated the effect of hybridization on brain anatomy, learning ability, and cognitive flexibility in first- and second-generation hybrids of two closely related fish species (Poecilia reticulata and P. wingei). Overall, we found that F1 and F2 hybrids showed intermediate brain morphology and cognitive traits compared to parental groups. Moreover, as phenotypic dispersion and transgression was low for both brain and cognitive traits, we suggest that hybridization is not a strong driver of brain anatomical and cognitive diversification in these Poeciliidae. To determine the generality of this conclusion, hybridization experiments with cognitive tests need to be repeated in other families.



Behavior and Ethology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Evolution, Life Sciences



Published: 2022-06-24 00:55


CC-By Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Data and Code Availability Statement:
Raw data and analysis code will be deposited in a freely accessible repository upon acceptance.