Dos and don'ts of testing the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution

R. Gomulkiewicz, D. M. Drown, M. F. Dybdahl, W. Godsoe, S. L. Nuismer, K. M. Pepin, B. J. Ridenhour, C. I. Smith, J. B. Yoder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The geographic mosaic theory of coevolution is stimulating much new research on interspecific interactions. We provide a guide to the fundamental components of the theory, its processes and main predictions. Our primary objectives are to clarify misconceptions regarding the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution and to describe how empiricists can test the theory rigorously. In particular, we explain why confirming the three main predicted empirical patterns (spatial variation in traits mediating interactions among species, trait mismatching among interacting species and few species-level coevolved traits) does not provide unequivocal support for the theory. We suggest that strong empirical tests of the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution should focus on its underlying processes: coevolutionary hot and cold spots, selection mosaics and trait remixing. We describe these processes and discuss potential ways each can be tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank John N Thompson for generously spending part of his field season to discuss the GMTC with us and for his helpful comments on an early draft. We are grateful to Butch Brodie and an anonymous reviewer for providing constructive comments. The National Science Foundation (grants DEB 0209916 and DMS 0540524 to RG, DEB 0343023 and DMS 0540392 to SLN, DEB 0296049 to MFD, and DEB 0516841 to O Pellmyr) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (to WG) provided financial support.


  • Cold spot
  • Hot spot
  • Local maladaptation
  • Selection mosaic
  • Trait remixing


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