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Keywords:

  • Geographic mosaic of coevolution;
  • lodgepole pine;
  • seed predation;
  • species interactions;
  • trait-mediated indirect effects

Phenotypic selection that is sustained over time underlies both anagenesis and cladogenesis, but the conditions that lead to such selection and what causes variation in selection are not well known. We measured the selection exerted by three species of predispersal seed predators of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta latifolia) in the South Hills, Idaho, and found that net selection on different cone and seed traits exerted by red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) and cone borer moths (Eucosma recissoriana) over 10 years of seed crops was similar to that measured in another mountain range. We also found that the strength of selection increased as seed predation increased, which provides a mechanism for the correlation between the escalation of seed defenses and the density of seed predators. Red crossbills consume the most seeds and selection they exert accounts for much of the selection experienced by lodgepole pine, providing additional support for a coevolutionary arms race between crossbills and lodgepole pine in the South Hills. The third seed predator, hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), consumed less than one-sixth as many seeds as crossbills. Across the northern Rocky Mountains, woodpecker abundance and therefore selective impact appears limited by the elevated seed defenses of lodgepole pine.