van Doorn, G. S.,Edelaar, P.,Weissing, F. J.
Ecological speciation is considered an adaptive response to selection for local adaptation. However, besides suitable ecological conditions, the process requires assortative mating to protect the nascent species from homogenization by gene flow. By means of a simple model, we demonstrate that disruptive ecological selection favors the evolution of sexual preferences for ornaments that signal local adaptation. Such preferences induce assortative mating with respect to ecological characters and enhance the strength of disruptive selection. Natural and sexual selection thus work in concert to achieve local adaptation and reproductive isolation, even in the presence of substantial gene flow. The resulting speciation process ensues without the divergence of mating preferences, avoiding problems that have plagued previous models of speciation by sexual selection.