We tested the hypothesis that forest and prairie populations of the gall-inducing fly, Eurosta solidaginis, have diverged in response to variation in selection by its host plant Solidago altissima, and its natural enemies. A reciprocal cross infection design experiment demonstrated that fly populations from the prairie and forest biomes had higher survival on local biome plants compared to foreign biome host plants. Flies from each biome also had an oviposition preference for their local plants. Each fly population induced galls of the size and shape found in their local biome on host plants from both biomes indicating a genetic basis to the differences in gall morphology. Solidago altissima from the prairie and forest biomes retained significant morphological differences in the common garden indicating that they are genetically differentiated, possibly at the subspecies level. The populations are partially reproductively isolated as a result of a combination of prezygotic isolation due to host-associated assortative mating, and postzygotic isolation due to low hybrid survival. We conclude that E. solidaginis is undergoing diversifying selection to adapt to differences between prairie and forest habitats.
- Plant-insect interaction
- Reproductive isolation