FINE-SCALE LOCAL ADAPTATION OF WEEVIL MOUTHPART LENGTH AND CAMELLIA PERICARP THICKNESS: ALTITUDINAL GRADIENT OF A PUTATIVE ARMS RACE

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Abstract

Although coevolutionary theory predicts that evolutionary interactions between species are spatially hierarchical, few studies have examined coevolutionary processes at multiple spatial scales. In an antagonistic system involving a plant, the Japanese camellia (Camellia japonica), and its obligate seed predator, the camellia weevil (Curculio camelliae), I elucidated the local adaptation of a camellia defensive armament (pericarp thickness) and a weevil offensive armament (rostrum length) within Yakushima Island (ca. 30 km in diameter), compared to a larger-scale variation in those traits throughout Japan reported in previous studies. Results showed that camellia pericarp thickness and weevil rostrum length vary remarkably within several kilometers on this island. In addition, geographic variation in each camellia and weevil armament was best explained by the armament size of the sympatric participant than by abiotic environmental heterogeneity. However, I also found that camellia pericarp thickness significantly decreased in cool-temperate (i.e., highland) areas, suggesting the contributions of climate on the spatial structuring of the weevil–camellia interaction. Interestingly, relatively thin pericarps occurred not only in the highlands but also in some low-altitude areas, indicating that other factors such as nonrandom or asymmetric gene flow play important roles in the metapopulation processes of interspecific interactions at small spatial scales.

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