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Diversification of Trait Combinations in Coevolving Plant and Insect Lineages

  • Author(s): Thompson, John N
  • Schwind, Christopher
  • Friberg, Magne
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://doi.org/10.1086/692164
Abstract

Closely related species often have similar traits and sometimes interact with the same species. A crucial problem in evolutionary ecology is therefore to understand how coevolving species diverge when they interact with a set of closely related species from another lineage rather than with a single species. We evaluated geographic differences in the floral morphology of all woodland star plant species (Lithophragma, Saxifragaceae) that are pollinated by Greya (Prodoxidae) moths. Flowers of each woodland star species differed depending on whether plants interact locally with one, two, or no pollinating moth species. Plants of one species grown in six different environments showed few differences in floral traits, suggesting that the geographic differences are not due significantly to trait plasticity. Greya moth populations also showed significant geographic divergence in morphology, depending on the local host and on whether the moth species co-occurred locally. Divergence in the plants and the moths involved shifts in combinations of partially correlated traits, rather than any one trait. The results indicate that the geographic mosaic of coevolution can be amplified as coevolving lineages diversify into separate species and come together in different combinations in different ecosystems.

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