Evolution of antagonistic and mutualistic traits in the yucca-yucca moth obligate pollination mutualism

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3 Scopus citations


Species interactions shape the evolution of traits, life histories and the pattern of speciation. What is less clear is whether certain types of species interaction are more or less likely to lead to phenotypic divergence among species. We used the brood pollination mutualism between yuccas and yucca moths to test how mutualistic (pollination) and antagonistic (oviposition) traits differ in the propensity to increase phenotypic divergence among pollinator moths. We measured traits of the tentacular mouthparts, structures used by females to actively pollinate flowers, as well as ovipositor traits to examine differences in the rate of evolution of these two suites of traits among pollinator species. Morphological analyses revealed two distinct groups of moths based on ovipositor morphology, but no such groupings were identified for tentacle morphology, even for moths that pollinated distantly related yuccas. In addition, ovipositor traits evolved at significantly faster rates than tentacular traits. These results support theoretical work suggesting that antagonism is more likely than mutualism to lead to phenotypic divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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