Correlated evolution in fig pollination

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This is the first comparative study of correlated evolution between figs (Ficus species, Moraceae) and their pollinators (Hymenoptera: Agaoninae) based on molecular phylogenies of both lineages. Fig relationships based on the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA and pollinator relationships inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences enabled the study of correlated evolution based on molecular phylogenies for the largest set of interacting species ever compared. Comparative methods have been applied to tests of adaptation, but the application of these methods in tests of coadaptation, defined as reciprocal evolutionary change in interacting lineages, has received less attention. I have extended tests of correlated evolution between two traits along a phylogeny to the case of interacting lineages, where two traits may or may not share a common phylogenetic history. Independent contrasts and phylogenetic autocorrelation rejected the null hypothesis that trait correlations within lineages are stronger than trait correlations between interacting lineages. Fig style lengths and pollinator ovipositor lengths, for example, were more highly correlated than were pollinator body size and ovipositor length. Mutualistic interactions between figs and their pollinators illustrate the novel ways in which phylogenies and comparative methods can detect patterns of correlated evolution. The most outstanding evidence of correlated evolution between these obligate mutualists is that interacting trait correlations are stronger than within-lineage allometric relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalSystematic Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Agaonidae
  • Coadaptation
  • Coevolution
  • Comparative methods
  • Ficus
  • Mutualism

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