To understand the process of speciation, we need to identify the evolutionary phenomena associated with divergence between populations of the same species. A powerful approach is to compare patterns of trait differences between populations differing in their evolutionary histories. A recent study of genetic divergence between populations of the meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus, from different locations around Europe has allowed us to use this species to investigate which aspects of evolutionary history are associated with divergence in morphology and mating signals. During the last glaciation C. parallelus was confined to a number of refugia in southern Europe and has subsequently recolonized the northern part of the continent. This process of isolation followed by range expansion has created populations differing markedly in their evolutionary pasts—some have been isolated from one another for thousands of years, others have undergone repeated founder events, and others now live in sympatry with a closely related species. Using laboratory-reared grasshoppers from 12 different populations with a range of evolutionary histories, we quantify differences in morphology, chemical signals, and male calling-song. The observed pattern of divergence between these populations is then compared with the pattern predicted by hypotheses about what drives divergence. This comparison reveals that long periods in allopatry and processes associated with repeated founder events are both strongly associated with divergence.
Corresponding Editor: K. Ross