Absence of population-level phenotype matching in an obligate pollination mutualism


William Godsoe, National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, University of Tennessee, 1534 White Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996-1527, USA. Tel.: (865) 974 9458; fax: (865) 974 9461; e-mail: godsoe@nimbios.org


Coevolution is thought to promote evolutionary change between demes that ultimately results in speciation. If this is the case, then we should expect to see similar patterns of trait matching and phenotypic divergence between populations and between species in model systems for coevolution. As measures of divergence are frequently only available at one scale (population level or taxon level), this contention is rarely tested directly. Here, we use the case of co-divergence between different varieties of Joshua tree Yucca brevifolia (Agavaceae) and their obligate pollinators, two yucca moths (Tegeticula spp. Prodoxidae), to test for trait matching between taxa and among populations. Using model selection, we show that there is trait matching between mutualists at the taxon level, but once we account for differences between taxa, there is no indication of trait matching in local populations. This result differs from similar studies in other coevolving systems. We hypothesize that this discrepancy arises because coevolution in obligate mutualisms favours divergence less strongly than coevolution in other systems, such as host–parasite interactions.