Reciprocal Selection Causes a Coevolutionary Arms Race between Crossbills and Lodgepole Pine

  • Benkman C
  • Parchman T
  • Favis A
 et al. 
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Abstract

Few studies have shown both reciprocal selection and reciprocal adaptations for a coevolving system in the wild. The goal of our study was to determine whether the patterns of selection on Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta spp. latifolia) and red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra complex) were concordant with earlier published evidence of reciprocal adaptations in lodgepole pine and crossbills on isolated mountain ranges in the absence of red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). We found that selection (directional) by crossbills on lodgepole pine where Tamiasciurus are absent was divergent from the selection (directional) exerted by Tamiasciurus on lodgepole pine. This resulted in divergent selection between areas with and without Tamiasciurus that was congruent with the geographic patterns of cone variation. In the South Hills, Idaho, where Tamiasciurus are absent and red crossbills are thought to be coevolving with lodgepole pine, crossbills experienced stabilizing selection on bill size, with cone structure as the agent of selection. These results show that crossbills and lodgepole pine exhibit reciprocal adaptations in response to reciprocal selection, and they provide insight into the traits mediating and responding to selection in a coevolutionary arms race.

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Authors

  • Craig W. Benkman

  • Thomas L. Parchman

  • Amanda Favis

  • Adam M. Siepielski

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