We identified a geographic mosaic of Eurosta solidaginis fly traits produced by coevolution of the stem gall-forming fly with both its natural enemies and its host plants at small geographic scales in the presence of gene flow. These tritrophic interactions between the fly with its natural enemies and with its host-plant Solidago altissima produced what has been termed a small-tiled geographic mosaic of coevolution. Selection on gall diameter and length varies between prairie and forest habitats due to differences in host plants and natural-enemy communities. At the prairie–forest ecotone where prairie and forest habitats are intermixed, we found that geographic selection mosaics on gall diameter and length varied on a scale of a few kilometers. Gall diameter variation among sites correlated with selection on gall diameters, indicating local adaptation. In contrast, gall lengths did not correlate with selection, indicating that gene flow may have prevented local adaptation of this trait. Eastern (forest) and western (prairie) subspecies of E. solidaginis have been proposed based on fly wing patterns, and these had intermediate forms in the ecotone indicating gene flow between these subspecies. Variation in wing patterns correlated with gall diameter, indicating that gene flow between prairie and forest fly populations may influence the distribution of gall traits. The ratio of forest to prairie vegetation increases with latitude, but there was no indication of latitudinal clines in gall or wing traits. Our results indicate that selection for differentiation in coevolved traits is strong enough to overcome gene flow in small tiles of habitat. The result is that ecological forces produce a dynamic mosaic of genetically differentiated locally adapted populations. It also indicates that prairie and forest host races of E. solidaginis form a mosaic hybrid zone in this region.
- Eurosta solidaginis
- local adaptation
- Solidago altissima
- three trophic level coevolution