Tegeticula maculata is one of the most ancient and morphologically variable lineages within the yucca moths, yet has apparently undergone little diversification in comparison with much younger yucca moth lineages that have rapidly diversified. A phylogeographic approach was used to determine the number of independent lineages within T. maculata and to examine whether these patterns corresponded with morphological differences between its subspecies maculata and extranea. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequence variation indicated that the two subspecies are in separate clades, but there was also an equally deep split within subspecies maculata. There was no evidence for gene flow among regions and there was considerable substructure within clades. The phylogeographic structure of moth populations among and within subspecies can be explained in part by historical biogeographic boundaries and increasingly patchy postglacial distribution of the exclusive host plant, Hesperoyucca whipplei. Local specialization and co-adaptation would be possible in the absence of apparent gene flow, yet gross morphological divergence is limited to the very old split between the subspecies. Sorting of ancient mitochondrial lineages followed by local genetic differentiation may explain the pattern of high genetic structure with limited speciation.
- Historical biogeography
- Obligate pollination mutualism
- Yucca-yucca moth interaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics