Multiple herbivores and coevolutionary interactions in an Ipomopsis hybrid swarm

Lynn L. Anderson, Ken N Paige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies focusing on pairwise interactions between plants and herbivores may not give an accurate picture of the overall selective effect of herbivory, given that plants are often eaten by a diverse array of herbivore species. The outcome of such interactions may be further complicated by the effects of plant hybridization. Hybridization can lead to changes in morphological, phenological and chemical traits that could in turn alter plant-herbivore interactions. Here we present results from manipulative field experiments investigating the interactive effects of multiple herbivores and plant hybridization on the reproductive success of Ipomopsis aggregata formosissima XI. tenuituba. Results showed that ungulate herbivores alone had a net positive effect on plant relative fitness, increasing seed production approximately 2-fold. Caterpillars had no effect on plant relative fitness when acting alone, with caterpillar-attacked plants producing the same number of flowers, fruits and seeds as the uneaten controls. Caterpillars, however, significantly reduced flower production of ungulate browsed plants. Flower production in these plants, however, was still significantly greater (approximately 1.7-fold greater) than uneaten controls, likely leading to an increase in reproductive success through the paternal component of fitness given that fruit and seed production was not significantly different from that of herbivore-free controls. Although results suggest that herbivore imposed selection is pairwise, ungulates likely have a large influence on the abundance of, and hence the amount of damage caused by, caterpillar herbivores. Thus, because of the ecological interactions between ungulates and caterpillars, selection on Ipomopsis may be diffuse rather than pairwise, assuming such interactions translate into differential effects on plant fitness as herbivore densities vary. Plant hybridization had no significant effect on patterns of ungulate or caterpillar herbivory; i.e., no significant interactions were detected between herbivory and plant hybridization for any of the fitness traits measured in this study nor did plant hybridization have any significant effect on host preference. These results may be due to patterns of introgression or the lack of species-specific differences between I. aggregata formosissima and I. tenuituba. Plant hybridization per se resulted in lowered reproductive success of white colored morphs due in part to the effects of pollination. Although it appears that there would be strong directional selection favoring darker flower colors due to the lower reproductive success of the white colored morphs in the short run, the natural distribution of hybrids suggest that over the long run selection either tends to average out or there are no fitness differences among morphs in most years due to the additive fitness effects of hawkmoth and hummingbird pollinators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-156
Number of pages18
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Cervus elaphus
  • Heliothis phloxiphaga
  • Herbivory
  • Hybridization
  • Ipomopsis aggregata formossissma
  • Ipomopsis tenuituba
  • Odocoileus hemionus
  • Pairwise vs. diffuse coevolutionary interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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