Metapopulation structure of a seed-predator weevil and its host plant in arms race coevolution

  • Toju H
  • Ueno S
  • Taniguchi F
 et al. 
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Although the importance of gene flow in the geographic structuring of host-parasite interactions has been well discussed, little is known about how dispersal drives the spatial dynamics of other types of coevolutionary interactions in nature. We evaluated the roles of gene flow in the geographically structured processes of a predator-prey arms race involving a seed-predatory weevil with a long mouthpart and its host camellia plant with a thick fruit coat. Molecular genetic analyses showed that both weevil and camellia populations were structured at a spatial scale of several kilometers. Importantly, the spatial pattern of the migration of weevils, but not that of camellias, imposed significant effects on the geographic configuration of the levels of coevolutionary escalation. This result suggests that even if migration is limited in one species (camellia), local coevolution with the other species that migrates between neighboring localities (weevil) can reduce the interpopulation difference in the local adaptive optima of the former species. Thus, gene flow of a species potentially homogenizes the local biological environments provided by the species and thereby promotes the evolutionary convergence of its coevolving counterparts. Consequently, by focusing on coevolutionary interactions in natural communities, "indirect" effects of gene flow on the adaptive divergence of organisms could be identified.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Arms race
  • Coevolution
  • Geographic mosaic
  • Host-parasite
  • Metapopulation
  • Predator-prey

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