Florivores limit cost of mutualism in the yucca-yucca moth association

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Multispecies interactions may have important consequences for the ecology and evolution of mutualism by changing the cost-to-benefit ratio. Here I determine whether florivorous beetles can limit moth populations and influence the costs of the mutualism between yuccas and their pollinating moths. Yucca moths actively pollinate yucca flowers, and their larvae feed on a portion of the seeds. I used a manipulative field experiment to examine the hypothesis that the characteristic feeding behavior of the florivorous beetle Hymenorus densits may increase mortality of pollinator moth eggs and reduce the costs incurred by the plant. The results indicated that H. densus consumes moth eggs and that the consumption rate matches levels of moth mortality typically observed in these populations. On average, beetles consumed 1-2 eggs per flower, which translates into an increase in seed production of -16-32% per fruit. Counterintuitively, these results suggest that florivores can limit moth populations and reduce the costs incurred by the plant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3215-3221
Number of pages7
JournalEcology
Volume89
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008

Keywords

  • Beetle
  • Community context
  • Florivory
  • Hymenorus
  • Multi-species interaction
  • Obligate pollination mutualism
  • Tegeticula Cassandra
  • Yucca
  • Yucca filamentosa
  • Yucca moth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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