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Keywords:

  • arms race;
  • coevolution;
  • geographic mosaic;
  • latitudinal gradient;
  • predator–prey interactions

Abstract

Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica) and its seed predator, the camellia weevil (Curculio camelliae), provide a notable example of a geographic mosaic of coevolution. In the species interaction, the offensive trait of the weevil (rostrum length) and the defensive trait of the plant (pericarp thickness) are involved in a geographically-structured arms race, and these traits and selective pressures acting on the plant defence vary greatly across a geographical landscape. To further explore the geographical structure of this interspecific interaction, we tested whether the geographical variation in the weevil rostrum over an 800-km range along latitude is attributed to local natural selection or constrained by historical (phylogeographical) events of local populations. Phylogeographical analyses of the mitochondrial DNA sequences of the camellia weevil revealed that this species has experienced differentiation into two regions, with a population bottleneck and subsequent range and/or population expansion within each region. Although these phylogeographical factors have affected the variation in rostrum length, analyses of competing factors for the geographical variation revealed that this pattern is primarily determined by the defensive trait of the host plant rather than by the effects of historical events of populations and a climatic factor (annual mean temperature). Thus, our study suggests the overwhelming strength of coevolutionary selection against the effect of historical events, which may have limited local adaptation.