Host conservatism, host shifts and diversification across three trophic levels in two Neotropical forests


Matthew L. Forister, Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology, Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, 89557, USA.
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Host–parasite systems have been models for understanding the connection between shifts in resource use and diversification. Despite theoretical expectations, ambiguity remains regarding the frequency and importance of host switches as drivers of speciation in herbivorous insects and their parasitoids. We examine phylogenetic patterns with multiple genetic markers across three trophic levels using a diverse lineage of geometrid moths (Eois), specialist braconid parasitoids (Parapanteles) and plants in the genus Piper. Host–parasite associations are mapped onto phylogenies, and levels of cospeciation are assessed. We find nonrandom patterns of host use within both the moth and wasp phylogenies. The moth–plant associations in particular are characterized by small radiations of moths associated with unique host plants in the same geographic area (i.e. closely related moths using the same host plant species). We suggest a model of diversification that emphasizes an interplay of factors including host shifts, vicariance and adaptation to intraspecific variation within hosts.